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17 Feb 14. Traditionally, performance drives military-aircraft design decisions and the energy implications of those choices are secondary. But as fuel costs eat into reduced budgets, the balance is shifting. Energy is fast becoming a critical constraint on operations, and the results could reshape aircraft design. For now, the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to cut fuel bills are focused on its transport and tanker fleet, which consumes two-thirds of the aviation fuel the service burns each year. While near-term retrofits—such as formation flying, winglets and other drag-reduction devices—can reduce the fuel consumption of existing aircraft, they will not provide the scale of savings sought in the long term. The name of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Revolutionary Configurations for Energy Efficiency (RCEE) program says it all: Dramatic changes in aircraft design may be required to achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption. The goal of RCEE Phase 1, which ran from 2009-11, was to define a next-generation mobility fleet that would use 90% less fuel than today’s transports and tankers. Under Phase 2, which began in 2011 and will run until 2015, companies are taking a closer look at specific configurations. In Phase 1, Boeing defined a mixed fleet that met the 90% savings target: an all-electric truss-braced-wing design with 20-metric-ton payload; a
40-ton-payload distributed-thrust hybrid-electric design; and a 100-ton payload hybrid-electric blended wing-body (BWB). In Phase 2, the company is taking a closer look at the distributed-thrust, hybrid-propulsion design. Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, studied a wide range of configurations and technologies in Phase 1 in search of the 90% goal, concluding a hybrid wing-body (HWB) offers the most potential. In Phase 2, the company is further refining the concept, which combines a blended wing and forebody for aerodynamic and structural efficiency with a conventional aft fuselage and tail for compatibility with current airlift missions, including airdrop. (Source: Aviation Week)
18 Feb 14. A Portuguese civil-military research project supported by the
European Defence Agency (EDA) is testing reduced-energy technologies for underwater robotics, said an EDA official. “In the Defence sector, the technology will allow underwater unmanned marine systems and robotics to operate at lower cost and added capabilities,” says an EDA press release. “Looking for underwater mines is one possible use,” said the EDA official. Others include exploration, scientific data gathering and fisheries. The planned delivery date is June 2015. The so-called TURTLE project was developed by a consortium of Portuguese small to medium enterprises (SMEs), research institutes and universities: the SME Silva Matos Metalomecanica, INESC PORTO (Technology & Science Laboratory), ISEP (School of Engineering, Porto Polytechnic Institute) and CINAV (Portuguese Navy Research Center). Its aim is to produce new ascent and descent energy-efficient technologies to be incorporated in robotic vehicles used by civil and military stakeholders for underwater operations. TURTLE is the first of seven dual-use research initiatives supported by the EDA and is the first to receive EU structural funds for civilian and military research. Military research projects are only eligible to receive EU structural funds if they also have a civilian dimension. The EU is funding 60 percent of the cost of the project, or about €770,000 (US$1.1m). The project is part of the EU’s efforts to coordinate security and defense research via the EDA and the European Commission. The idea is to use dual-use research projects to promote innovation in Europe while retaining key technological and industrial capabilities. (Source: Defense News)
19 Feb 14. Saft, the world’s leading designer and ma