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22 Feb 18. Getac, manufacturers of mobile rugged devices for a range of industries, today announces significant updates to its successful X500 notebook and X500 server products, further strengthening its proposition for the defence industry. Getac now offers a full range of customisable rugged mobile devices and software integrations specifically designed to support battlefield digitisation strategies and evolving modern warfare practices. The fully rugged 15-inch X500 is Getac’s most powerful notebook available today with the latest high performance processors, wifi and connectivity capabilities. It allows deployed soldiers to rapidly access and process high density data such as 3D graphical mapping of an operational theatre or terrain for situational awareness, while keeping them agile in extreme environments.
Jackson White, Sales Director at Getac UK Ltd comments; “We’re seeing growing investment in C4iSR technologies to support modern and asymmetrical warfare and digitisation strategies in the defence sector around the globe. Getac is in a position to serve this growth by providing defence organisations with a complete range of reliable, robust and secure technology that can act as a force multiplier and help ground teams operate more efficiently.”
Getac’s X500 mobile server, a portable device that resembles a rugged briefcase, can store up to 6TB of data. It meets the intensive data and mobile cloud storage needs of temporarily deployed, rapid early entry and emergency response teams. It can be used to capture analytical and mission data from dismounted troops, ground or air platforms using X500 notebooks or other mobile data devices. Teams can also use the device to analyse platform, mission and engine data to ensure operational sustainability in high demand environments.
For defence, security of data and mobile devices is paramount. The X500 devices are certified to military standards MIL-STD 461G and MIL-STD 810G, providing reliability in the harshest theatres. Due to its open architecture it remains fully compatible with current, legacy and future Generic Base Architecture and Generic Vehicle Architecture standards. The Getac Secure ecosystem delivers robust multi-layer security to the highest standards for both hardware and software. Robust encryption protects data in use and at rest. Both the X500 notebook and server benefit from Windows 10 security features including tamper-free start-up, data protection and multifactor authentication. In the event that the system is compromised or stolen, optional Mobile Device Management software will allow it to be disabled remotely.
Getac’s ecosystem of products for defence is growing and serves multiple requirements from the MX50 rugged tablet for the dismounted soldier, the B300 which includes night vision goggle capabilities and comprehensive software integrations. The addition of the X500 series strengthens Getac’s proposition, providing the building blocks for turnkey solutions for defence and security customers.
Getac offers continued support for its devices with industry leading ‘bumper to bumper’ warranties up to seven years.
22 Feb 18. Putting Magnesium Back in to the Spotlight. Students in Birmingham, UK, are being challenged to showcase the potential uses of magnesium within the aerospace sector as part of a competition being set by Birmingham City University and the world’s largest producer of magnesium components, Meridian.
At 1.8g/cm³, magnesium is the lightest of all structural materials, the eighth most abundant chemical element in the earth’s crust and is 100 per cent recyclable.
However, misconceptions surrounding the element’s properties have seen a historical aversion to designing products with magnesium when compared to less sustainable and heavier metals.
The competition being set by the partners aims to alter these perceptions with an interdisciplinary art installation designed by students that will be showcased to experts at the University, Meridian and the International Magnesium Association (MIA), who are also supporting the project. If the winning prototype inspires further investment, it is hoped a full-scale version will be crafted from magnesium and exhibited in a partner venue.
Makhan Singh, Development Manager at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, Birmingham City University, said:
“A lot of people still believe magnesium catches fire easily. It doesn’t, but the myth still influences most people’s understanding, including engineers. However, while magnesium is not the simplest material to extinguish when alight – it continues to burn in nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water – its thermal conductivity makes it difficult to ignite in the first place.
“Magnesium is one of the best metals in terms of flammability, because it dissipates heat across its body so well, whereas steel, for example, localises the heat, so it can get very hot much more easily.”
The competition will also provide the students with an opportunity to work closely with professional artists, designers, engineers, industrial partners and global organisations on this project, with the potential of international exposure for the winning entry and runners-up.
Kellie Easton, HR Manager, Meridian Lightweight Technologies United Kingdom (MLTUK) said:
“Our Nottinghamshire plant produces around 5,000 net metric tons of die-cast products annually, serving automotive clients such as Daimler, Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Ford, Honda, Porsche, and Volvo.
“However, a long-standing ban has been lifted for the use of high pressure magnesium die casting in aircraft seat construction, providing they meet strict performance standards, and we see this as an opportunity to work with aircraft seat manufacturers who may soon start using lightweight, new-generation magnesium alloys in their seats.
“This particular project with Birmingham City University, therefore, is pivotal in showcasing the wonderful benefits of magnesium to the aircraft industry by fusing engineering and the arts in a dynamic, creative and artistic manner.”
Birmingham City University and Meridian agreed a strategic partnership last year, which has seen the two organisations work together in the education, research and development of magnesium use. The partnership is placing fuel efficiency through weight savings and sustainability at its core, and last year they joined forces for an inaugural magnesium symposium held at the University’s City Centre Campus in Birmingham.
The competition was launched at Birmingham City University on Thursday 15 February and individuals and teams from across the institution’s four Faculties will have two months to finesse their ideas before submission in April
In attendance at the launch was Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University; Stephen Brown, Engineering Manager and Kellie Easton, HR Manager, both from MLTUK; and Councillor Shafique Shah, as well as representatives from the University’s multidisciplinary Magnesium Innovation Group and participating students.
The project is being run in conjunction with the University’s Graduate+ Week (Monday 19 – Friday 23 March). Graduate+ is an undergraduate scheme that looks to identify and develop students’ experience and build on their skills, enhancing and supporting their employment options when they leave university.
By embedding career-related skills into every degree course taught at Birmingham City University, Graduate+ is designed to provide students with a personalised range of activities, so as to build on their own professional profile. A Graduate+ Award also offers recognition and evidence of achievements gained from participating in the initiative. (Source: UAS VISION)
21 Feb 18. US Air Force eyes self-protection systems for aging tankers, airlifters. The U.S. Air Force’s fleet of legacy tankers and cargo planes may be getting some major survivability upgrades over the next decade, with lasers and autonomous systems on the table, the head of Air Mobility Command said Tuesday. Air Mobility Command recently completed an assessment about how to improve the survivability of aircraft in contested environments, Gen. Carlton Everhart, the four-star in charge of AMC, told reporters. While more work still needs to be done to figure out exactly which modifications the Air Force will fund and when, the “High Value Airborne Asset” study recommended improvements to communications, situational awareness and self-protection systems.
“Those technologies are out there right now,” he said. “We’re just at the infancy stages of starting to peel that back. How does that fit on the airplane? Do we need to modify the airplane? How does it work? What can we do to make this better?”
The area of self-protection systems perhaps offers the most diverse technologies for the Air Force to pick from or develop further, with Everhart pointing to everything from light armor, signature management tech or high-energy lasers as potential interests.
“We just had a directed-energy summit where we’re really taking a look at exploring defensive systems that we may be able to piggy back on contracts. That’s in an exploratory phase,” he said. “That would give them persistence over a battlefield.”
The command will also consider whether to equip tankers and airlift assets with nondevelopmental radar warning receivers. And AMC is searching for additional beyond-line-of-sight communications, he said. AMC will be looking at data links commonly used by the bomber and fighter fleets, like Link 16, and how to better network with the service’s air operations center.
When Link 16 was being developed, AMC didn’t think its aircraft needed that or other kinds of advanced communications technology, Everhart explained. However, the ability to better understand the threats around an aircraft and communicate with other Air Force assets in the area could greatly bump the chances of an older platform like the 1950s KC-135 Stratotanker surviving a battle with a near-pear competitor.
“If I can get the situational awareness up inside the cockpit where the aircrews can make a decision whether to hang on or all out for a CAP [combat air patrol] to come in and protect that aircraft or to retrograde out, that’s a whole lot further than what I’ve got now because right now I have nothing. Right now it’s a … radio,” he said.
The Air Force plans on requesting a total of $49.2m over fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020 for a KC-135 upgrade called “Real Time in the Cockpit,” which aims to provide protected, classified data connectivity. Other requests for funding survivability upgrades will likely emerge in the next five to 10 years, once AMC formalizes its requirements, Everhart said.
Going forward, the command will also assess whether its newest platform, the KC-46 tanker due for delivery this year, could benefit from enhancements — including making it more autonomous, he said.
“As that airplane continues to develop, is there a possibility for autonomous mobility platforms? That’s going to be able to offboard and onboard communications just to be able to get that aircraft to fly and be able to fly. And that’s a possibility in the future.”
The High Value Airborne Asset study was led by AMC, but could also have implications for aircraft outside of the air mobility fleet. Everhart told reporters that Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Combat Command, which oversee the service’s bomber and strike assets, also participated in the assessment.
During a trip last week to Kadena Air Base, located on the Japanese island of Okinawa, Defense News asked KC-135 operators whether survivability upgrades — such as defensive systems, high-energy lasers or a radar signature disguising devices for which Everhart had previously expressed interest — would be beneficial for the Stratotanker fleet.
“I would have to defer to the war fighter on [if those upgrades would be] useful and helpful,” said Lt. Col. Garrett Bilbo, commander of the 909th Aerial Refueling Squadron. “Would it be neat and innovative and a better way to do business? I’d say ‘yes.’ ”
Capt. Ty Burgess, the squadron’s director of staff and a KC-135 pilot, said that survivability upgrades could be nice, if that’s what Air Force leadership deems necessary. However, Burgess said he was still happy with the aircraft’s performance despite its advanced age, and indicated that he felt comfortable with the Stratotanker’s current level of survivability.
“We’re not like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I need a new X.’ That’s just not the case with this airplane,” he said.
“As far as what I want, I want an airframe that keeps on flying and flying well. Whether that’s round dials and gauges, if that’s what’s working and that’s survivable and a long-term solution, awesome. If that’s LED screens and glass cockpit, that’s fine, too.” (Source: Defense News)
21 Feb 18. Want soldiers to use advanced tech? Go more disposable and address accountability culture. “You can make mistakes, but lose equipment and you will be fired.” I learned this early in my career, and it has continued to be reinforced on an almost daily basis with tie downs, weekly and monthly inspections, and automatic investigations for just about any piece of equipment misplaced. Keeping track of equipment is vital to being a professional soldier, but there are negative side effects from a culture of accountability. With the U.S. Army facing a potential surge of money to modernize, we need to recognize this culture, or it will could detract from our efforts to prepare for the future.
The new secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, has identified modernization as one of his priorities. There are plans for a new Futures Command and cross-functional teams meant to aggressively streamline requirements, research and development, and procurement and acquisition processes. Teams will address everything from a new combat vehicle to soldier lethality — which can span new weapons, night vision and unmanned aerial vehicles at the individual soldier level.
The Army’s modernization efforts coincide with the development of a new fighting concept — multidomain battle — that foresees soldiers using new technologies, from artificial intelligence to robotics, while fighting across all domains — air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
One thing that capability developers and even Army senior leaders often forget in their effort to give soldiers new technologies is the culture of accountability.
Soldiers are indoctrinated from Day One on the importance of maintaining accountability of all their equipment. And when I say “all,” I mean all. Soldiers get issued ID cards, clothes, equipment, weapons, ammunition and much more. They are accountable for it all. If a soldier loses something early in his training, a common corrective action is to have the soldier tie every piece of equipment on his body to himself with parachute cord (commonly called “550 cord” or in these instances “dummy cord”). From head to toe, everything is tied down — hat, shirt, pants, boots and even the ID card. (Source: Defense News)
16 Feb 18. The Bundeswehr, famously bureaucratic, wants to charm technology startups. Germany’s tech companies could see new business with the military, as Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen seeks to funnel more funding toward cyber technologies under plans to grow the country’s defense budget.
At least that’s the plan.
Von der Leyen struck an optimistic tone here at the Munich Security Conference when opening the event’s inaugural “Innovation Forum.“ But, she acknowledged, the German armed forces have fallen behind the curve in some cases, as innovation was “happening elsewhere.“
The discussion in Germany is essentially identical to one led in Pentagon circles for years: What can government do to make itself attractive to non-traditional companies with great ideas? (Hint: The prospect of big sales may not be the main argument, as one tech CEO here said.)
Alex Karp, the co-founder and CEO of data-mining giant Palantir, joined von der Leyen on stage to dish out some advice for a country that he said has world-class engineers but sometimes lacks can-do optimism.
Palantir’s own story is marked by its struggles to get the U.S. Army to adopt an application that predicts attacks with improvised explosive devices on the battlefield. At the time, the service had its own multibn-dollar software planned and saw Palantir encroaching on its turf. The fight turned public and it became bitter, but for many it encapsulated what’s at stake when big government meets Silicon Valley types.
In the end, Karp said, what opened doors for Palantir was finding special operations forces who were so convinced of his counter-IED product that they would go to bat for it within their bureaucracy. “You go to the generals and tell them this will save my life,” he remembers telling service members.
The German Bundeswehr last year created what officials hope will be an easier entryway for new ideas, the Cyber Innovation Hub. The new organization is slated to get €15m over three years. Its leader, Marcel Otto Yon, said he hopes to reach full operational capability in a year.
As von der Leyen and Yon see it, money isn’t everything. Their concern is more about changing the thinking within the Bundeswehr to foster innovation and modify an acquisition process built on sequential iteration, not disruption.
“We need a raise in the budget, without any question, but I have to think even more about how do I have to change the structures,” said von der Leyen. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
20 Feb 18. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) software has been simultaneously flying, on average, at least six unmanned aircraft during every hour of the last 25 years, completing missions as diverse as reconnaisance, inspection, mapping and targeting. Today, Lockheed Martin is launching VCSi, a new vehicle control software, as the culmination of more than two decades of experience and 1.5m hours of operational use.
Lockheed Martin will unveil VCSi – commercial software that enables operators to simultaneously control dozens of unmanned vehicles and conduct information, surveillance and reconaissance missions – during the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi this month.
“VCSi is a safe and reliable software platform that can be adapted to any vehicle – from one you can hold in your hand, to a 50,000-pound machine; from a vehicle that flies for a few minutes, to a vehicle that flies for months at a time,” said John Molberg, business development manager, Lockheed Martin CDL Systems. “The user can integrate as many vehicles as required to complete their missions, including boats, quadcopters, fixed-wing aircraft or even high-altitude pseudo satellites. Across commercial or military missions, VCSi is adaptable to the challenge and further extends the power of the human-machine team.”
VCSi’s major enhancements include:
- Multi-Vehicle: Control interfaces to allow for true control of dissimilar vehicles anywhere on earth
- Intuitive: Lockheed Martin further advanced its fly-by-mouse interface to enable easier training and reduce operator/analyst task loads
- Affordable: Priced competitively with all unmanned systems in mind, customers can buy essential modules for their mission set
- Modular: Offers a robust plug-in architecture, which allows for custom content to be added by the user or selected from pre-existing modules
- International: Commercial software, made in Canada and free of export restrictions
VCSi is designed around the NATO Standardization Agreement known as STANAG 4586, which supports unmanned vehicle interoperability. Customers can build attachments or plug-ins beyond 4586 to customize the VCSi software, which also supports multiple languages and non-Latin scripts. VCSi provides advanced 3D visualization of vehicles and airspace, and it is at the forefront of integration into unmanned traffic management systems.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the VCS unmanned control product family, which has accumulated more than 1.5m flight hours by operators controlling 40 different vehicles across several dozen companies.
Lockheed Martin has five decades of experience in unmanned and autonomous systems for air, land and sea. From the depths of the ocean to the rarified air of the stratosphere, Lockheed Martin’s unmanned systems help militaries, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges.
20 Feb 18. USSOCOM to receive LiFT batteries for new dry combat submersible. The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is set to take delivery of the first shipset of lithium-ion fault tolerant (LiFT) batteries for use on-board its new dry combat submersible (DCS).
The DCS is a long endurance underwater delivery vehicle weighing more than 30t, which can be launched from surface vessels.
It is capable of travelling long distances underwater and is designed to safely transport personnel in a ‘dry environment’.
The LiFT batteries will be developed and delivered to the USSOCOM by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS).
The company has been under contract with Lockheed Martin since September 2016 to supply the batteries, which are intended to power the submerged vehicles’ propulsion and internal support systems.
GA-EMS Programmes vice-president Rolf Ziesing said: “We have made significant investment in developing the LiFT battery concept, and have successfully demonstrated the reliability and resiliency of the LiFT battery system in realistic undersea conditions, as well as in extreme testing environments.
“We are proud to be supporting this programme and are excited to deliver the first battery system for DCS.
“This milestone represents a big step forward in meeting the demand for safer and more capable battery systems for undersea applications.”
The batteries’ modular design and single cell fault tolerance are intended to assist in the prevention of uncontrolled and catastrophic cascading lithium-ion cell failure.
LiFT is capable of maintaining power availability for high mission assurance and helps ensure the safety of personnel and platforms.
Lockheed Martin and Submergence Group previously received a $166m contract from the USSOCOM for the production of underwater DCSs in July 2016. (Source: naval-technology.com)
19 Feb 18. NSW and ACT deliver new Defence Research Institute. A new Defence Research Institute aimed at delivering world-class research to enhance Australia’s security has been launched by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra.
The UNSW Defence Research Institute will draw on the expertise of researchers from UNSW Sydney and Canberra, to provide Defence with solutions to real-life issues. The institute was officially launched by UNSW president and vice-chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs.
“World-class defence starts with world-class research,” Professor Jacobs said. “UNSW Canberra has 50 years’ experience partnering with Defence and a 50-year history of excelling in research. The UNSW Defence Research Institute will combine our strengths and lead the way for the next 50 years and beyond.”
Professor Jacobs said the institute’s knowledge across a range of sectors will be shared with communities across academia, government and industry, as well as global policy makers.
“UNSW excels in areas such as cyber security, space, systems engineering, artificial intelligence, logistics, hypersonics, defence-related public sector management and conflict studies,” he said
“We are making our expertise available for others to learn.”
The university is now looking for a director to lead the institute and will also hire 33 new academics during the next 12 months.
UNSW Canberra rector Professor Michael Frater said the UNSW Defence Research Institute will shine a light on the ground-breaking research conducted by the university’s academic staff.
“UNSW Canberra is one of the world’s leading research institutions, a pioneer in defence studies and a global leader in cyber security education,” Professor Frater said.
“It’s the natural home for Australia’s largest university driven defence research institute.” (Source: Defence Connect)
16 Feb 18. Upgrade Navy Networks To Get Most From F-35: Commandant Wants Quality. If the Commandant of the Marine Corps had one more dollar to spend — and he probably will with the recent budget deal — he’d use it to upgrade Navy ships’ electronics to take full advantage of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, he said this morning. The Marines’ new F-35Bs have the sensors to gather vast amounts of data and the computer smarts to “fuse” and make sense of it, experts tell us, but the Navy amphibious warships it will fly from lack the networks and computing to download and use all that intelligence.
“Right now we’re not even close to having that discussion with some of our amphibs, particularly the big deck amphibs,” Neller said. (That’s the LHA and LHD classes, often referred to as mini aircraft carriers). “We’re putting a fifth gen airplane on that amphib and we’re running a less than fifth gen command and control suite. And so to me that would be the first thing.”
It’s worth noting that Gen. Robert Neller was speaking off the cuff after I asked him about his priorities at an event hosted by the Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition. As it was, Neller thought aloud for a moment about various Marine Corps needs, from long-range firepower to more Navy attack submarines to clear the seas, before saying his top priority would be command, control, and networking upgrades to fully exploit the capabilities of the F-35. Nevertheless, this morning’s remarks give a pretty good preview of what the Marines will be telling Congress.
“We don’t have to have just… more ships, we’ve got to have more capable ships,” Neller said in his opening remarks. In particular, he went on, “the F-35 is a very capable airplane, but it’s got to be able to network. It will not realize its capability unless you can network that thing. You’ve got to exchange information not just between other airplanes, but (with) the ships that are in the fleet and….the force that’s going to go ashore.”
So, if you had that one more dollar, I asked Neller a few minutes later, what would you spend it on?
“That’s a tough question,” Neller replied. “Where’s the tradeoff, where’s the knee in the curve, between just more iron and better capability? I’d say the answer is in the middle. To buy a whole bunch of ships that don’t have survivability, that don’t have command and control, that don’t have air defense, that don’t have some form of surface-to-surface strike, is not going to solve the problem.”
Neller went on to reiterate his past statement that the Marines need the Navy to buy more attack submarines to clear the seas of enemy forces so the Corps can get ashore. But then he went back immediately to the electronics of command and control. While the hull, mechanical, and engineering systems of a ship can last for decades, when it comes to what “the command and control suite is going to be, you’ve got to build that thing with a little more open architecture” (i.e. be easier to upgrade), he said, “because if it takes five to seven years to build a ship. Who knows what the communications technology is going to be in five years?”
It’s from this remark that Neller went on to say matching 5th generation fighters with 5th generation command and control would be “the first thing” to get additional funding.
“A Fifth Generation Marine Corps”
“Fifth Generation” is an aerospace term referring to the latest US multi-role fighters, the F-22 and F-35, with their combination of stealth, advanced sensors, and sophisticated computing to “fuse” information from different sensors into a single coherent picture easily understood (in theory) by the pilot. At recent fora such as the Surface Navy Association, Neller has started talking in broad strokes about upgrading the rest of the force to match, what he’s been calling a “Fifth Generation Marine Corps.” His deputy commandant for combat developments, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, spoke at the AFCEA-USNI WEST conference in San Diego about 5th generation urban warfare and 5th gen armored reconnaissance vehicles that would bring F-35-like information gathering to the ground force. But this morning is the most specific I’ve heard a Marine Corps leader get about priorities.
There’s a real need to upgrade both technology and the training of the humans who use it, independent experts told us. “The F-35 airframe is a large flying computer that is surrounded by an extensive sensor web,” said retired Navy captain Jerry Hendrix, now with the Center for a New American Security. “The spatial awareness that it provides its pilot is exceptional, and one of the concerns that I have raised in the past with senior leaders is whether young F-35 pilots are going to be experienced enough and wise enough to make full use of the information that is provided to them.”
It’s not just the pilots in the planes, Hendrix continued, it’s the officers on the ships. Different ships have more or less modern equipment depending on when they last got an upgrade, but “almost none of our ships are equipped communications-wise to make full use of all of the information an F-35 can send to them in real time,” he told me. “If one F-35 pilot, through his helmet, can get a 3-D understanding of the 360-degree bubble that is around him out for hundreds of miles, how do you convey several of those ‘bubbles’ back to the ship and the leadership embarked there simultaneously, especially if those F-35s are flying out different vectors and ranges from the ship?”
“The introduction of the F-35B to the fleet is a considerable upgrade; it cannot be seen as just an updated AV-8B,” agreed retired commander Bryan McGrath, now with the Hudson Institute. “The key to getting our money’s worth is ensuring that the sensor data that the F-35B generates gets off the plane and back to the shooters. It is important to recognize the huge philosophy shift that General Neller is giving a glimpse of. The F-35B, in addition to being a MEU asset, is a fleet asset, and the incredible information that it generates has to find its way to the fleet.”
The problem even predates the F-35, said Robbin Laird, a well-connected consultant and Breaking Defense contributor. When the Marines replaced CH-46 helicopters that could fly at most 100 nautical miles from a ship with V-22 tiltrotors that could fly over 400, they outgrew the command and control capabilities of Marine Expeditionary Units and the Amphibious Ready Groups they sail on.
“It is not so much and F-35 issue as it is a fleet issue,” Laird said. “With the coming of the Osprey, the classic ARG-MEU which operated within a 200 square mile box was over time shifted to a distributed force operating over a much larger area and C2 issues emerged rapidly.” That issue of scale just becomes more pressing with each new system fielded: not just the F-35 itself but also the America-class big deck amphib, the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter, and the future MUX scout drone.
In budgets to date, “the Navy has prioritized the carriers and their needs over the amphibious fleet, but with the innovations in the amphibious fleet, attitudes are changing,” Laird said. “The Navy needs to adjust its C2 investments to the emergence of the new amphibious task force empowered by airpower transformation.”
Quality over Quantity
The Commandant’s call to upgrade the ships, not just build more, was just one reflection of his general emphasis on quality over quantity. “I would trade numbers of ships for capability if I had (to), if that was the trade,” Gen. Neller told the AWIBC gathering.
For example, one of the earlier speakers, Senate seapower subcommittee chairman Roger Wicker, had urged accelerating production of the big-deck America class. Wickers called for closing the currently planned gap of seven years between delivering the LHA-8 Bougainville, now ready to begin construction, and the as-yet unnamed LHD-9. Gen. Neller endorsed this idea with a marked note of caution:
“Moving some of the hull forms to the left would be good, but then again the Navy’s going to have to recruit, because you can’t just have the ships, you’ve got to have the sailors, you’ve got to have a crew,” he said. (The Navy’s currently about 7,000 sailors short).” I’ve got plenty of Marines to put on those ships.”
Now, Neller clearly wants more amphibious ships: The current total in service is 32, war plans require 38, and meeting all the theater combatant commanders’ demands would take “about 50,” he said But, equally clearly, he doesn’t want more at the expense of better. That extends beyond better electronics to integrate the F-35 and, just to name programs he mentioned this morning, includes
- long-range precision firepower to attack surface targets on land and sea from HIMARS and other launchers;
- more hovercraft and landing craft (“connectors”), including future robotic ones — “one day,” he said, “they’ll all be autonomous”;
- a new large MUX drone to scout ahead; and
- a fourth Puller-class multi-purpose Expeditionary Sea Base ship, formerly known as the Afloat Forward Staging Base.
- With the National Defense Strategy reorienting the armed forces from counterinsurgency to great power threats like Russia and China, Neller said, “we’re looking at all the things we’ve… not had to deal with for the past 17 years.. with the information and electronic warfare… air defense, things like that.”
But the F-35 is clearly at the top of the Commandant’s mind, and the pressure is mounting to get the fleet ready to make full use of it. “The F-35 is bouncing on the Essex right now,” Neller said. “We’re not waiting. This isn’t something that’s going to happen, it’s happening. 13th MEU is going out this fall with F-35.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Feb 18. Rockwell Collins’ ARC-210 airborne radio passes DoD MUOS test. Rockwell Collins’ ARC-210 RT-2036(C) radio has met the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) military security requirements for operation. The airborne very/ultra high frequency (V/UHF) radio has successfully passed a ‘Do No Harm’ (DNH) test, which was carried out by the US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) for the DoD’s new mobile user objective system (MUOS).
Rockwell’s sixth-generation ARC-210 is currently the first airborne radio to have successfully concluded testing using the most current MUOS waveform.
Rockwell Collins Communication, Navigation and Electronic Warfare Solutions vice-president and general manager Troy Brunk said: “We’re at the forefront of this new technology and one step closer to bringing certified MUOS capability to airborne operations.
“The benefits of MUOS, which include improved mobility, frequency capacity, access and signal quality, will provide the communications our warfighters need for continued success in the future.”
MUOS is the next-generation satellite communications (SATCOM) system used for air and ground communications.
It operates in the UHF band and is intended to deliver enhanced overall capacity and signal quality.
The DoD system is capable of providing access to any combination of voice, data or video, and offer better communications capabilities to the troops compared to the traditional systems, primarily within rough terrain and beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) situations.
Rockwell Collins carried out initial flight testing of the ARC-210 MUOS in 2013. The radio system is currently slated to be made operational this year. (Source: naval-technology.com)
16 Feb 18. New sensor tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times faster. Researchers at WMG at the University of Warwick have developed a new direct, precise test of Lithium-ion batteries’ internal temperatures and their electrodes potentials and found that the batteries can be safely charged up to five times faster than the current recommended charging limits. The new technology works in-situ during a battery’s normal operation without impeding its performance and it has been tested on standard commercially available batteries. Such new technology will enable advances in battery materials science, flexible battery charging rates, thermal and electrical engineering of new battery materials/technology and it has the potential to help the design of energy storage systems for high performance applications such as motor racing and grid balancing.
If a battery becomes over heated it risks severe damage particularly to its electrolyte and can even lead to dangerous situations where the electrolyte breaks down to form gases than are both flammable and cause significant pressure build up. Overcharging of the anode can lead to so much Lithium electroplating that it forms metallic dendrites and eventually pierce the separator causing an internal short circuit with the cathode and subsequent catastrophic failure.
In order to avoid this, manufacturers stipulate a maximum charging rate or intensity for batteries based on what they think are the crucial temperature and potential levels to avoid. However until now internal temperature testing (and gaining data on each electrode’s potential) in a battery has proved either impossible or impractical without significantly affecting the batteries performance.
Manufacturers have had to rely on a limited, external instrumentation. This method is obviously unable to provide precise readings which has led manufacturers to assign very conservative limits on maximum charging speed or intensity to ensure the battery isn’t damaged or worst case suffers catastrophic failure.
However researchers in WMG at the University of Warwick have been developing a new range of methods of that allows direct, highly precise internal temperature and “per-electrode” status monitoring of Lithium-ion batteries of various formats and destination. These methods can be used during a battery’s normal operation without impeding its performance and it has been tested on commercially available automotive-class batteries. The data acquired by such methods is much more precise than external sensing and the WMG have been able to ascertain that commercially available lithium batteries available today could be charged at least five times faster than the current recommended maximum rates of charge.
The WMG researchers have published their research this month (February 2018) in the prestigious? journal Electrochimica Acta in a paper entitled “Understanding the limits of rapid charging using instrumented commercial 18650 high-energy Li-ion cells”
15 Feb 18. An app to keep paratroopers glued to their phones. A parachute is a carefully engineered mess of cloth and string, gently lowering its occupant to the ground. A paratrooper is a person who takes that same trusted parachute, and then jumps out of a plane into a combat zone, and, in theory, is ready to fight as soon as he hits the ground.
Paratrooper jumps stick in the popular imagination as a fixture of past war, from a messy, if successful, use as part of D-Day to a messy and less successful attempt in Operation Market Garden, but we’ve seen airborne jumps in the 21st century, with jumps into both Afghanistan and Iraq taking place early in the respective wars, and continuing as a feature of some special operations forces missions.
With parachute jumps continuing right up to the present day, it should then be a little unsurprising that there’s now an app for paratroopers.
But is it an essential download?
Here’s how research firm Draper describes their app for parachutists:
The system operates as a plug-in to a smartphone — the first version is for the Android platform. Parachutists can use the app to see the terrain below them, the location of the jump team around them and the designated landing point. The app can also track the parachutists by sensing the moment they leave the plane. The app automatically switches navigation modes at that point, leaving the parachutist free to focus on maneuvering their parachute rather than adjusting the app.
It is, in a way, a Waze for paratroopers, tracking movement by GPS and noticing the changed states from “sitting in a plane” to “freefall” to “under a parachute.” As designed, it works with the gloves worn by the parachutist, and it can accept new data from the person in charge of the map. The research was funded by the U.S. Army, and will likely find a home there.
Will an app guarantee a future for parachute troops? Military observers and commentators periodically debate if paratroopers are a capability worth keeping, noting the rarity of large-scale jumps since World War II, highlighting the strategic rather than tactical utility of forces jumping from planes rather than carried by helicopter, and decrying the lack of a suitable air-dropped armored vehicle to really live up to airborne’s potential. While an app can’t solve the problem of a lack of armor, it can mitigate one of the greatest risks from air-dropping troops: landing zone dispersal, where a potent fighting force is instead scattered over a vast area, and able to be stopped piecemeal.
If there is a future for the airborne, it is likely a future with apps. The surprise gained is invaluable, provided, of course, that no jogging apps give the jumpers away. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.