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Wed, 19 May 10
Comfut System From EADS DS Completes Test Phase
Madrid, Spain (SPX) May 19, 2010 - The Spanish Future Soldier System ComFut (Combatiente del Futuro) is nearing the finishing line. In March, EADS Defence and Security (DS) in Spain delivered 36 equipment sets to the Spanish Army as specified in the Design and Development (D+D) contract signed with the Ministry of Defence.
These sets have been used to train the first 25 soldiers from the Academia de Infanteria (Infantry Academy) on the ComFut system. The soldiers carried out user tests in flat and mountainous terrain from 12 to 14 April. The system evaluation trials will continue in Toledo until its final validation at the end of June.
Enrique Barrientos, the CEO of DS in Spain, commented: "The tests being carried out are of fundamental importance, as they will enable us to make final adjustments to the system so that it meets the Spanish Army's requirements. Our objective is to equip future soldiers with technological innovations that will enhance their safety, efficiency and mobility as well as enabling them to perform their missions in a modern environment of networked operations."
ComFut is divided into seven subsystems: weaponry, power supply, firing efficiency, information and communication, survivability, sustainability and preparation.
The system was designed and developed using lighter and more resistant state-of-the-art materials for ballistic protection in the helmet and the bullet-proof vest. Likewise, new textile materials help to reduce infrared (IR) and thermal signatures, improve camouflage and provide better protection against Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological (NBCR) attacks.
The information and communication subsystem comprises a radio terminal and a ruggedised PDA-type wireless laptop computer. The radio incorporates a GPS tracking function and is designed to handle voice and data transmission. This facilitates communication between members of the squad and connects them with the higher command levels.
The cordless PDA provides soldiers with information on the positions of any allied and enemy troops that have been located and the direction in which they are moving. It permits the transmission and reception of messages, alerts, mission data and so on. All these elements significantly improve the soldiers' protection.
The firing efficiency subsystem is an optronic weapon system that improves the soldier's capacity to detect the enemy thanks to equipment such as a thermal camera, laser pointers and image intensifiers. The weapon sensors are integrated via a wireless connection with a visor mounted on the helmet. This is essential in ensuring the soldier's safety, as it enables him to aim and fire from behind cover without having to show himself.
ComFut transforms soldiers into intelligence sensors and target acquisition organisms who are fully integrated in the military command and control structure.
Wed, 19 May 10
Russian Company Unveils Plans For Fifth-Gen 'Invisible' Helicopters
Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) May 18, 2010 - Russian Helicopters is planning to create the world's first fifth-generation combat helicopter which experts say would be able to attack fighter jets and be invisible for radars, Russian daily Gazeta said on Thursday.
"We are working on the concept of the fifth-generation combat helicopter," the paper quoted the company's CEO, Andrei Shibitov, as saying at a news conference in Moscow.
Shibitov did not specify the characteristics of the helicopter, but said the company was going to spend some $1 billion on the project, with more investment expected to be allocated from the state budget.
First deputy head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, told the paper fifth-generation combat helicopters have never been created before, although the U.S. recently began working on a similar project.
He said criteria for a fifth-generation combat helicopter say it must be radar invisible, have an extended flying range, be equipped with an intellectual arms control system, be able to combat fighter jets (existing helicopters are generally only intended to hit ground-based targets) and reach a speed of up to 500-600 km/h (310-370 mph).
The project cannot proceed, however, unless it is backed by the government.
"If the government does not sign a contract, the idea will die on the vine," head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems Leonid Ivashov told Gazeta.
Ivashov said that with sufficient investment and good organization the new helicopter could be built within five years. Otherwise, the project may drag on for 20-30 years.
But he sounded skepticism about chances to carry out the project.
"We have been snatching at everything - fifth-generation planes, fifth-generation helicopters, but nothing of this have so far been supplied to the army - today the army uses helicopters produced in 1970s," Ivashov said.
Wed, 19 May 10
US Army recalls helmets amid probe into contractor
Washington (AFP) May 17, 2010 - The US Army has recalled 44,000 helmets that failed ballistic tests and federal authorities are investigating the firm that manufactured them, officers said on Monday.
The helmets, made by ArmorSource in Hebron, Ohio, were issued to American troops since 2007, including an unknown number of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brigadier General Pete Fuller told reporters.
"We don't where they (helmets) are. So they could be on some soldier's head in either Iraq or Afghanistan. They could also be anywhere else in the world," Fuller said.
The move came amid a probe by the Justice Department, which launched an investigation in January into ArmorSource's helmet contract, and after a recent round of tests raised concerns, Fuller said.
The helmets were subjected to "worst case scenarios" at a Maryland shooting range and while they failed to meet the army's standards, the test results gave no indication soldiers would be at risk of lethal injury, officers said.
"In ballistic tests, the helmets fell short of the Army standards, not by much, but the standards are absolute. And if you don't meet them, you don't meet them," said Colonel William Cole.
The test results on the helmet came a day after the Justice Department officials provided "critical additional details" about their investigation, prompting the Pentagon to launch the recall, Fuller said.
Officials declined to offer details of the Justice Department investigation.
The military had an ample supply of the same helmets made by three other contractors that would allow troops to exchange the recalled helmets manufactured by ArmorSource, officers said.
Some soldiers in Afghanistan had already exchanged their helmets after commanders were notified last Thursday.
"We're doing due diligence... (because) a vendor under investigation might not have done all they should have done, we wanted to ensure there's no risk ever put to our soldiers," Fuller said.
"So we're recalling all the helmets associated with that vendor."
The army first had concerns about the contractor's work last year as paint on the helmet was peeling off, said Fuller, who oversees equipping army troops.
The Advanced Combat Helmet is standard issue for all Army troops and is also used by the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. The Marine Corps use a slightly lighter version that has also been recalled, but those helmets had not been distributed yet, officers said.
The 44,000 recalled helmets -- which cost 250 dollars each -- represent about four percent of the total number of Advanced Combat Helmets in the military's inventory, Fuller said.
Under an August 2006 contract, ArmorSource manufactured 102,000 helmets. Of that number, 44,000 were distributed to troops and have been recalled, while 55,000 are still in storage and the military refused to accept the remaining 3,000, Fuller said.
As a result of the tests and ongoing investigation, all the helmets made by ArmorSource in the military's inventory will be destroyed, he said.
Wed, 19 May 10
Bats' Echolocation Recorded For Human Exploit
London, UK (SPX) May 17, 2010 - Bats' remarkable ability to 'see' in the dark uses the echoes from their own calls to decipher the shape of their dark surroundings. This process, known as echolocation, allows bats to perceive their surroundings in great detail, detecting insect prey or identifying threatening predators, and is a skill that engineers are hoping to replicate.
A team of British researchers has worked with six adult Egyptian fruit bats from Tropical World in Leeds to record and recreate their calls. These calls are pairs of 'clicks' from the bats' tongues that they use to fill their surroundings with acoustic energy; the echoes that return allow the bats to form an image of their environment.
New research published in IOP Publishing's Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, describes how engineers and biologists from the Universities of Strathclyde and Leeds worked with the bats to record their double-click echolocation call, and its returning echoes, using a miniature wireless microphone sensor mounted on the bat whilst in flight.
During echolocation, some bats are known to use a natural acoustic gain control. This allows them to emit high-intensity calls without deafening themselves, and then to hear the weak echoes returning from surrounding objects. The researchers replicated this system in electronics to allow the sensor to record both the emitted and reflected echolocation signals, providing an insight into the full echolocation process.
The six bats performed up to sixteen flights each along a flight corridor. Each flight was short - lasting only about three seconds - but, with the bats' clicks only lasting a quarter of a millisecond, a large number of calls were recorded for the scientists to analyse.
Once back into the laboratory, the researchers were able to accurately recreate the echolocation calls using a custom-built ultrasonic loudspeaker. This technique will allow the signals and processes bats use to be applied to human engineering systems such as sonar. Specifically, the researchers are looking to apply these techniques in the positioning of robotic vehicles, used in structural testing applications.
Lead author Simon Whiteley from the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said, "We aim to understand the echolocation process that bats have evolved over millennia, and employ similar signals and techniques in engineering systems. We are currently looking to apply these methods to positioning of robotic vehicles, which are used for structural testing. This will provide enhanced information on the robots' locations, and hence the location of any structural flaws they may detect."
Wed, 19 May 10
First Torpedo Launched From C295
Paris, France (SPX) May 12, 2010 - This represents an important milestone in the development of the antisubmarine version of the C295 MPA. It is also a significant entry for Airbus Military into the market of Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft, currently dominated by veteran aircraft such as the P-3 Orion and the Atlantique.
The C295 MPA/ASW includes two under-wing pylons for the installation of torpedoes and other external loads. It also incorporates a Store Management System (SMS), integrated with the Airbus Military Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS), to control the deployment of sonobuoys for submarine detection and torpedoes.
The C295 MPA has a flight endurance of over 11 hours, and it is used for a wide variety of missions: Search and Rescue (SAR), control of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), law enforcement, marine pollution detection, as well as defence missions.
The C295 platform, a multi-mission short / medium range tactical transport aircraft, offers high manoeuvrability and excellent qualities for low-altitude flying. In addition, it has been widely tested in all kinds of aerial deployments: launch of chains of SAR rafts, emergency equipment and parachutists.
With this new version, Airbus Military increases the capabilities offered by its surveillance aircraft family.
Wed, 19 May 10
XM25 Lets Soldiers Eliminate Targets They Can't See
Aberdeen Proving Grounds MD (SPX) May 12, 2010 - The Army's Program Executive Office Soldier showcased some of its products May 5 at the Aberdeen Test Center here. Among those products were the XM153 Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, the M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun with M2E2 Quick Change Barrel Kit, the lighter weight M240L Medium Range Machine Gun, and the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System.
Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, program manager for individual Soldier weapons at PEO Soldier, demonstrated the XM25 airburst weapon. The system launches 25mm programmable rounds which can explode over a target.
If the Soldier "wants to get that round in the window ... what's he's able to do with the high explosive round is he's able to laser designate the building and the round will then fly through the window and explode inside the room," Lehner said.
Aboard the XM25 is a laser rangefinder that can measure the distance to the target and place an adjusted aim point on a targeting screen. The system then allows Soldiers to choose to over-shoot the measured distance so the round will explode inside the building. The targeting computer programs the round to explode at the designated distance. The system allows Soldiers to hit targets they cannot see, because they are hiding behind walls, inside buildings or behind natural obstructions.
Special operations forces will be the first units to use the XM25.
Maj. Sean Murray, assistant product manager for individual weapons, discussed the M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun, which can be held individually or mounted under an M4. It allows for the firing of lethal, less-than-lethal or door-breaching rounds.
The rifle's door-breaching capability was demonstrated on a free-standing framed door set up on the test range. With one shot, the lock mechanism was destroyed and the door was easily kicked open.
Murray said the optimal distance for performing a door-breech operation is about three inches. The shotgun has a slider tip at the end that pulls out to the correct distance, so Soldiers don't have to guess.
It's expected the first units will be equipped with the M26 this summer.
The M320 Grenade Launcher attaches to the bottom of an M4 or M16, and can also be configured as a stand-alone weapon. It attaches or detaches from a weapon with no special tools required and includes a side-loading breach for longer 40mm low-velocity projectiles. The system also includes a day/night sight and a handheld laser rangefinder for the grenadier. The system is designed as a replacement for the M203.
"The 203 has been a great workhorse for us, but in the M320, we've got a more reliable, more accurate and safer weapon system," Murray said. The M320 was fielded to units in 2009.
On the M240L 7.62 Medium Range Machine Gun, Murray said the system is one of the best in the world.
It's "the most reliable machine gun on the battlefield - bar none - nobody else in the world has a machine gun just like this," he said.
The weapon is about five pounds less than the 240B, which the Army has fielded for 20 years now. But the M240L has "no decrease in reliability or maintainability," Murray said.
The M240L has a titanium receiver, instead of steel, and also sits on the M192 Lightweight Ground Mount - a new tripod that weighs seven pounds less than the previous tripod for the weapon.
"As part of our initiative we're trying to get the Soldier's load lightened up and in this case we've shaved off 12 or 13 pounds from the original configuration," he said.
Aboard the CROWS - a remotely controlled weapons system that mounts above a vehicle - is the addition of a "green laser" that can temporarily blind targets, said Maj. Michael Pottratz, assistant product manager for crew-served weapons.
"It's a non-lethal hailing device, that crosses cultural and language barriers on the battle field, enabling Soldiers to stop or halt or warn civilian on the battlefield," he said. The system can be used at checkpoints to warn civilians to stop, for instance. "It temporarily disrupts the individual's vision and safely warns them."
Having the light shined into your eyes is "like looking at the sun for just a couple of seconds," said Pottratz, who has been exposed to the light before.
Pottratz also explained improvements to the M2 Machine Gun - the original design has been used by the Army since 1933. Additions to the weapon include the M2E2 Quick Change Barrel Kit which allows Soldiers to remove a hot barrel quickly and not have to readjust and set headspace and timing. A demonstration showed that when fitted with the kit, the barrel on the M2 could be changed in a little over 18 seconds.
"During the heat of battle, the difference between these weapons systems is night and day," Pottratz said.
Thermal weapons sights, including the AN/PAS-13(V)1 Light Weapon Thermal Sight, the AN/PAS-13(V)2 Medium Weapon Thermal Sight, and the AN/PAS-13(V)3 Heavy Weapon Thermal Sight were also displayed. The sights serve weapons from the M-16 rifle to the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and the M2 machine gun.
Matthew Hunter, an operation specialist with PEO Soldier Sensors and Lasers, talked about the capabilities of the sights, saying they provide targeting indicators for Soldiers and visual aids to help identify the distance of objects through the sight - for instance, lines indicate how tall a five-foot man would appear or how large a ten-foot tank would be though the sight.
The sights also display information about the weapon they are attached to, and indicate remaining battery life. Hunter said the sights fit a variety of Army weapons and employ interchangeable reticules so users can move between weapons systems.
While Soldiers can see targeting lasers and aiming lights with the naked eye, the thermal sights cannot. However, those targeting aids are visible with the ENVG Enhanced Night Vision Goggle, which fuses both infrared and thermal images.
Sgt. 1st Class Lang Gureckis, who has served 26 months in Iraq and 9 months in Afghanistan, said devices like the ENVG add greatly to mission capability.
"In Afghanistan it made a big difference," he said. "You can sit there on a mountain top ... and actually, if you can see a heat source a kilometer or a kilometer and a half away ... you can scan, as opposed to looking with night vision where you are only going to see somebody when they are like 200-300 meters away from you. It makes life a whole lot easier. We use the lightweight thermal weapons sights to the same effect. You can see far distances with them and actually tell what you're looking at, whether it is a guy with an AK47 or a guy with a blanket around his shoulders."
There are plans to enhance the ENVG with improved image processing capability and also to include the ability to import and export digital information, such as data files and maps.
The ENVGs are currently fielded to units in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wed, 19 May 10
US Navy's Dual Band Radar Achieves X- And S-Band Milestone
Tewksbury MA (SPX) May 10, 2010 - For the first time, the U.S. Navy has successfully tracked targets with a multiband radar featuring a common radar suite controller.
This milestone, which took place at the Navy's Engineering Test Center, Wallops Island, Va., was accomplished through the use of an engineering development model of the Dual Band Radar (DBR) developed by the Navy's prime contractor, Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), and its subcontractor Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The DBR tracked a target simultaneously at both X- and S-band frequencies. This is the most advanced naval radar in the world and will provide advanced surveillance and ship missile-defense capabilities for the Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG 1000) and Ford-class aircraft carrier (CVN 78) in both deep water and littoral environments.
This 21st century system combines the benefits of the X-band AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar and the S-band Volume Search Radar (VSR), providing superior performance in a broad range of environments against a variety of threats. It is the first naval radar system in the world capable of simultaneous, coordinated operation across two frequency ranges.
This milestone event simultaneously used AN/SPY-3's and VSR's search capabilities to acquire and track the target. Additionally, the test demonstrated the system's ability to perform automatic handover from S-band to X-band in precision tracking mode, a key feature of the radar and its single track manager.
The DBR is the result of more than a decade of collaboration between Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and the Navy. The radar is now in production for both the Zumwalt and Ford class, where it will replace six legacy radar systems.
Wed, 19 May 10
Northrop Grumman Cobham Team Integrates VIS-X Vehicle Intercom System Into US Army Stryker Systems Integration Lab
Baltimore MD (SPX) May 10, 2010 - Northrop Grumman Cobham Intercoms (NGCI) has announced the successful integration of the Vehicle Intercom System - Expanded (VIS-X) into the U.S. Army's Stryker systems integration lab (SIL) environment at the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command in Warren, Mich.
Working with the Program Manager Stryker Brigade Combat Team, VIS-X hardware was seamlessly integrated into the Stryker SIL, replacing the AN/VIC-3 intercom system.
The integration demonstrated the form, fit and function compatibility of VIS-X with AN/VIC-3 and the ability to add new communications features without increasing the system footprint or re-wiring the Stryker vehicle. VIS-X is NGCI's next-generation capability, replacing Northrop Grumman and Cobham's highly successful AN/VIC-3, of which more than 85,000 systems have been fielded.
"During our Stryker SIL integration, we demonstrated that VIS-X reduces the total electronic box count by 30 percent and increases the number of available users, radios and alarms," said John Jadik, vice president of Communications, Intelligence and Networking Solutions for Northrop Grumman's Land and Self Protection Systems Division.
"Existing VIC-3 highway cables, headsets and brackets were re-used, allowing for an easy upgrade to vehicles already utilizing the AN/VIC-3 and reducing the risk associated with new vehicle implementations."
With the integration of VIS-X into future upgrades of the Stryker and other wheeled and tracked vehicles, advanced features including 10/100/1Gbit Ethernet, VoIP, SIP calls, point-to-point calling, multiple intercom groups, remote radio control, radio re-transmission, and alphanumeric displays and menus become available to the systems integrator and the warfighter.
VIS-X can be used in both new production and legacy vehicle platforms, allowing the warfighter to utilize the same state-of-the-art equipment regardless of vehicle type or age.
VIS-X is being supplied under a 10-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a not-to-exceed ceiling of $2.4 billion awarded to NGCI in 2009 by the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command.
The VIS-X program is managed by the Vehicular Intercom Systems project office, which is part of the Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (DCATS) project office of the Army's Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS).
Under the terms of the contract, the NGCI team is required to deliver up to 500 VIS-X systems per month during the first year following completion of First Article Testing and up to 2,000 systems per month in subsequent years.
Cobham's products and services have been at the heart of sophisticated military and civil systems for more than 75 years, keeping people safe, improving communications and enhancing the capability of land, sea, air and space platforms. The Company has four divisions employing 12,000 people on five continents, with customers and partners in over 100 countries and annual revenue of some 1.9 billion pounds sterling / U.S. $3 billion.
Wed, 19 May 10
USAF Awards Raytheon Contract For Stand-In Jammer
Tucson AZ (SPX) May 10, 2010 - The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a $48.9 million contract to begin engineering, manufacturing and design (EMD) of its Miniature Air Launched Decoy stand-in jammer variant.
MALD is a state-of-the-art, low-cost, decoy flight vehicle that is modular, air-launched and programmable. It weighs less than 300 pounds and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles (about 575 statute miles). The MALD-J adds radar-jamming capability to the basic MALD platform without altering the decoy's outer mold line.
"During EMD, Raytheon will put MALD-J through an aggressive series of free-flight and captive-carry tests," said Scott Muse, Raytheon's MALD program director.
"This is a critical capability for the warfighter, and we intend to meet the required asset available date of 2012."
Prior to entering EMD, the MALD-J successfully completed all 27 test events, culminating in a free-flight test in December 2009. Raytheon recently completed a second free-flight test of the MALD-J April 27.
"In executing the MALD-J program, Raytheon has been ahead of schedule and under budget for 39 months in a row, and we have every reason to expect the same performance during EMD," said Ken Watson, the U.S. Air Force's MALD program manager. "The success of this program is crucial because it will reduce or eliminate the need for manned stand-in jamming aircraft."
Wed, 19 May 10
Boeing Wedgetail Aircraft Accepted Into RAAF Fleet
RAAF Base Williamtown, Australia (SPX) May 06, 2010 - Boeing has announced that the Commonwealth of Australia has accepted the first two Project Wedgetail 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW and C) aircraft into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fleet.
The aircraft were accepted during a ceremony at RAAF Base Williamtown, the main operating base for the Wedgetail fleet.
"This major milestone demonstrates that the 737 AEW and C system is ready for operational training and use. It also represents the culmination of years of design, development, modification and testing by the Boeing-led team to bring this complex system - the first of its type - to our first AEW and C customer," said Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president, AEW and C Program.
Acceptance of the two Wedgetail aircraft means ground and flight operations and maintenance of the aircraft are now fully under RAAF control. Boeing delivered the two aircraft last year and has been supporting RAAF familiarization training on the AEW and C system, which includes
the aircraft as well as the Operational Flight Trainer, Operational Mission Simulator and Mission Support System.
Boeing will deliver three more Wedgetail aircraft to the RAAF by the end of this year, including one upgraded in the final AEW and C configuration with Electronic Support Measures. All aircraft in the Wedgetail fleet will be upgraded to the final configuration in early 2011.
Project Wedgetail includes six 737 AEW and C aircraft, plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance.
Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 commercial airplane, the 737 AEW and C aircraft is designed to provide airborne battle-management capability with an advanced multirole electronically scanned radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles that are able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.
The mission crew can direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area.
Boeing also has AEW and C systems in production for Turkey and the Republic of Korea.