Friday, August 12, 2005

Off the Wire, 8/12

Construction of US Navy's Next-Gen Carrier Underway

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (Newport News, VA) has reached its first construction milestone in the life of the new-generation aircraft carrier, CVN 21. The company cut one of the first pieces of steel, a 15-ton plate for a side shell unit of CVN 78, the first ship of the CVN 21 program.
Design work on the CVN 21 is underway at Northrop Grumman's Newport News sector, with the full construction contract anticipated in 2007. Advance construction began in 2005 to allow shipbuilders to test the design-build strategy before overall construction begins in 2007. Each ship of the class is valued at approximately $8 billion.
Innovations for the CVN 21 program include an enhanced flight deck, capable of increased sortie rates; improved weapons movement; a redesigned island; a new nuclear power plant; reduced manning; and allowance for future technologies. These and many other evolutionary features are being developed to maximize efficiency and to reduce acquisition costs, manning, and weight while enhancing the ship's operational capabilities. Design and technology insertion costs are approximately $5.6 billion, spread over the class of ships.

For more on US Navy force levels, see US Navy Scrambles in Face of Deep Cuts.

First Korean SLAM-ER Rolled Out

Source: Boeing

The first Boeing (St. Louis, MO) Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) for the Republic of (South) Korea Air Force (ROKAF) rolled out recently during a ceremony at Boeing's Weapons Enterprise Capability Center in St. Charles, MO.
Korea is the SLAM-ER's first international customer. The ROKAF will use the SLAM-ER on its fleet of Boeing-built F-15K multirole fighters, which arrive in Korea this fall.
"It will greatly enhance the F-15K and further enable us in our efforts to deter war in the Korean Peninsula," said Col. Lee Yoon-sang, director of the ROKAF's Fighter Program Division, said at the ceremony. "SLAM-ER's ability to accurately strike targets on land and at sea will provide a tremendous advantage to ROKAF pilots."

For more on South Korea's F-15K program, see EW Suite Flies on New Korean F-15K.

USMC Hornets Getting LITENING AT Pods

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (Rolling Meadows, IL) has been awarded a contract by the US Marine Corps (USMC) to begin outfitting the service's F/A-18 Hornet aircraft with LITENING AT pods and pylons. The LITENING AT is a self-contained, multisensor laser target-designating and navigation system, and the pods are equipped with a new datalink "plug-and-play" technology that enables them to accept a variety of datalinks without any modification to the pod or to the aircraft.
The $40-million contract calls for the delivery of 24 pods and associated mounting pylons and spares, beginning immediately and continuing through early 2006.
The LITENING AT pods being supplied to the Marine Corps will be "left handed," or designed to be installed on pylon station four, the same location that the current pods are installed on F/A-18C/Ds.
To date, a total of 360 LITENING AT pods have been ordered by US forces and foreign military services. LITENING AT and its predecessors, LITENING II and LITENING ER, are currently operational on AV-8Bs flown by the USMC and the Italian and Spanish navies, as well as on A-10s, B-52s, F-15Es and F-16s flown by active-duty and reserve components of the US Air Force. Together, all variants of the LITENING AT pod have amassed approximately 350,000 flight hours, with more than 125,000 of these hours posted in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The LITENING AT is a self-contained, multisensor laser target-designating and navigation system that enables aircrews to detect, acquire, track, and identify ground targets for delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons. LITENING AT features advanced image processing for target identification and coordinate generation, a 640x512-pixel forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, charge-coupled-device television sensors, a laser spot tracker, an infrared laser marker, an infrared laser designator/rangefinder, and a datalink transmitter.

For more on Litening pods for Marine Hornets, see USMC Hornets Getting Their Own Litening.

UK's Nimrod MRA4 Completes Hot-Weather Trials

Source: BAE Systems

Within days of the first anniversary of its inaugural flight, the BAE Systems (Farnborough, Hampshire, UK) Nimrod MRA4 has successfully completed its first overseas deployment, a 10-day visit to the Mediterranean for a series of hot-weather trials, based at the Italian Air Force facility in Sigonella, Sicily. Despite punishing daytime temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F), the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Nimrod passed this latest series of development testing.
The deployment to Sicily was conducted by a joint BAE Systems/RAF crew.
Achievement of this significant milestone adds to a number of other recent successes, at a relatively early stage of Nimrod MRA4's flight-test schedule. Development aircraft PA01 and PA02 have now completed more than 100 flying hours between them, with the longest flight to date lasting four hours and 35 minutes. Initial stall trials have been completed successfully, and the aircraft has already flown at its service altitude of 35,000 ft. Three sorties have been flown by a Nimrod MRA4 on the same day for the first time, with one of them being the first to be captained by an RAF pilot.
The third and final Nimrod MRA4 development aircraft, PA03, will join the fleet shortly, following its first flight from Woodford airfield, near Manchester. An intensive flight-trials program, operating from BAE Systems' Warton and Woodford sites, is scheduled to involve all three aircraft through to 2007.
A comprehensive bid for the production of a 12-aircraft Nimrod MRA4 fleet was submitted to the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) last month, with a decision expected later this year. The bid includes conversion to a production standard of the three MRA4 development aircraft at the conclusion of their flight-trials work.
The UK MoD awarded BAE Systems a preliminary contract for the through-life support of the Nimrod MRA4 fleet in May. This has prepared the ground for a more detailed fleet-support proposal, currently being prepared by the joint BAE Systems/MoD team for submission in March 2007. As part of these activities, the MRA4 partnered support team will be working with the current Nimrod MR2 team to ensure that when the MRA4 goes into service at RAF Kinloss, Scotland, at the end of this decade, there will be a seamless transition of operations.
The Nimrod MRA4, which can give the UK 30 years of adaptable capability in maritime reconnaissance and attack (land) operations is 94% new build. Its integrated mission system enables the crew to gather, process, and display up to 20-times more technical and strategic data than its predecessor, the Nimrod MR2. The aircraft has an increased range (over the current Nimrod MR2) of 6,000 miles and is capable of 14 hours of loiter time without the need for refueling.

For more on the UK's Nimrod program, see New Recce Tech for UK's Nimrod R1.

Support Contract Awarded for RAF Sentry Fleet

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (McLean, VA) has signed a contract to provide aircraft-maintenance and design-engineering support services to improve availability and reduce through-life ownership costs for the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) fleet of E-3D Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. Northrop Grumman was selected as the preferred bidder by the UK Ministry of Defense in July 2004.
The Sentry Whole Life Support Program contract is valued at approximately $1.2 billion over 20-plus years. The contract is a fixed-price contract for the first five years, and the remaining 15 years of the contract is target cost incentive fee. In addition, the contract is fully funded for the entire 20-year term.
Northrop Grumman's IT sector, the overall lead on the program, will support the maintenance schedule for AWACS aircraft, ensuring that only one aircraft, out of a fleet of seven, is in scheduled maintenance at any given time. The IT sector will also provide systems integration, program management, and the information-technology infrastructure. The contract also includes repairs of structural parts and inventory upkeep, support of design engineering, maintenance training, and conversion and management of technical publications in an electronic format.
Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector will have engineering-support responsibility and design authority for AWACS. The company's Electronic Systems sector will provide radar capabilities, while Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector will offer interactive, electronic technical-manual support.
The Sentry is the UK's principal early-warning and control aircraft, providing vital strategic support to the UK armed forces in operations around the world. The RAF operates seven of the Boeing 707-based aircraft at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, UK and the contract supports the aircraft through the out-of-service date, which will be in the mid-2020s.
Work on the program will be performed at RAF Waddington.
Northrop Grumman teammates include AAR Corp. (Wood Dale, IL), BAE Systems (Farnborough, Hampshire, UK), and FR Aviation (Christchurch, Dorset, UK).

For more on AWACS upgrades, see Upgrade of USAF AWACS Fleet Underway and French AWACS to Receive Upgraded Radar.


Some media outlets are reporting on the ability of authorities to exploit a cell phone feature that enables them to triangulate on a caller. Julian Sanchez at Reason Online's Hit & Run references a Guardian article describing a number of "Orwellian" surveillance techniques, notable in this context is the ability to activate a cell phone's microphone in order to track it without the owner's knowledge. Michael Totten writing at Instapundit describes this as "chilling."

Actually, a number of defense communications companies, such as Thales Communications (Paris, France), offer systems for obtaining communications intelligence (COMINT) on wireless networks, such as cellular and satellite phones. The technology is not new, but perhaps the license of Western authorities to use such systems to monitor suspected terrorists hidden among their populations will reach new levels of permissiveness. This capability is another outgrowth of the digital revolution, where new applications and services such as text messaging and covert tracing, can be added to existing hardware with centrally managed software changes.

Speaking of triangulation, here's an anecdote from the First Chechen War (1994-1996) from eDefense Online's European Editor Michal Fiszer describing how Russian forces used communications monitoring technologies to locate and strike a Chechen leader:

On the morning of April 22, 1996, the Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev was fatally wounded. He was having a long talk on his mobile telephone, the story goes, when suddenly a missile struck almost his exact location. The bane of Russian forces fighting the Chechen separatists subsequently died of his wounds. According to unconfirmed sources, Dudayev's mobile-phone conversation was monitored by a Russian signals-intelligence (SIGINT) unit, which immediately passed the target's grid coordinates to a missile brigade tens of kilometers away, equipped with the Tochka [SS-21] battlefield rocket. It took about 10 minutes from the time Dudayev was located to the impact of the missile.

Another dimension of this story is the accuracy of modern Russian battlefield rockets. For more on that, see Michal's story, Bolt From the Blue.

Battlefields are no longer separate places where uniformed armies engage each other. The use of COMINT in the urban battlespaces of today can be expected to become as routine as surveillance by airborne sensor and electronics intelligence (ELINT) aircraft of conventional battlefields. War is where the enemy is.

For more on urban battlefield surveillance technologies, see Hearing Impaired by eDefense Online's Senior Editor Ted McKenna.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Digital Domain

eDefense Online Senior Editor Brendan Rivers recently wrote a story about how the US Air Force awarded Raytheon a contract to develop a networked passive geolocation capability for the AN/ALR-69A(V) radar-warning receiver (RWR) that would be used for pinpointing the locations of enemy radio-frequency (RF) emitters (see USAF to Locate Enemy Using RWRs). Geolocation is the ability to derive the x,y,z coordinates of a radio or radar source by getting multiple bearings on it from a given receiver over time or by multiple receivers networked together.

The contract, awarded by the USAF's Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (Robins AFB, GA) under the Advanced Tactical Targeting Technology (AT3) program, calls for the development of the necessary software algorithms and a Frequency and Time Module (FTM) that would provide this new capability to the all-digital, wideband ARL-69A(V) RWR -- itself an upgrade of the ALR-69(V), which is currently installed on USAF F-16, A-10, C-130, and MH-53 aircraft. RWRs with these enhancements fitted onboard multiple aircraft could then share their time and frequency measurements, along with GPS data, via datalink, to come up with a much more precise location of an enemy emitter. Because it is a completely digital, wideband system, the ALR-69A(V) can perform the necessary signal processing at sufficient speeds for such accurate and rapid geolocation.

The geolocation data acquired and shared among other aircraft could then be used to target air-defense sites and other emitter sources with GPS-aided precision-guided munitions that could be employed from other fighter aircraft in the area. The USAF is looking at equipping not just F-16s but a variety of aircraft with the AT3 capability, in particular F-15s and A-10s. What's particularly interesting is that this capability would distribute the suppression/destruction of enemy air defenses (S/DEAD) mission generally among front-line aircraft, rather than leaving it in entirely in the hands of specialist squadrons and aircraft types, such as the F-16C/J. According to one source, the US Navy has also expressed interest in providing AT3 for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Although the Super Hornet is equipped with the ALR-67(V)3 RWR, that system is also being upgraded to an all-digital version, which would enable it to perform AT3's geolocation measurements.

This development dovetails nicely with electronic attack options reportedly under consideration by the US Air Force for its future F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft. Neither aircraft is due to receive an internal RF jammer because their low-radar cross-section designs and advanced BAE Systems AN/ALR-94 RWRs (common to both) are intended to enable the aircraft to detect and avoid enemy air-defense sites passively. So how will electronic attack be possible? Both the Raptor and the JSF are to receive active electronically scanning phased-array (AESA) radar systems -- the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-77 in the former and the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 for the latter. With the right software, these all digital radar emitters can be used as spot jammers, directing pencil beams against "pop-up" threats. A similar role of an AESA radar is already under consideration for the PS-05/A Mk5 NORA radar in development for Sweden's Gripen by Ericsson and Raytheon (see Gripen Settles In). In addition to its usual functions, the NORA -- "Not Only Radar" -- system will also perform passive electronic reconnaissance and active jamming of enemy radars within its operational frequency range (I-J bands).

The advent of all-digital mission avionics is advancing the day where multiple discrete systems will no longer be required for distinct functions. Emitters and receivers will be tuned to whatever function is required by application software. Moreover, as datalinks increase in bandwidth and networks increase in scope, many of the duties that are currently handled by specialists will be addressable by an expanding array of multi-mission platforms and crews.

Off the Wire, 8/11

Two More Global Hawks for War on Terror

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (San Diego, CA) has received a contract from the US Air Force to deploy two production RQ-4A Global Hawk aerial reconnaissance systems early this fall. The air vehicles will join an advanced-concept-technology-demonstration version of the Global Hawk currently in theater supporting the global war on terrorism.
To date, deployed Global Hawks have flown more than 4,300 combat hours in 200 missions.
The $21 million contract was awarded on June 2.
The Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of 65,000 ft., above inclement weather and prevailing winds for more than 35 hours. During a single mission, it provides detailed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information on a 40,000-square-mile area in near-real time.

For more on Global Hawk, see Global Hawk to Receive Upgraded Sensor Suite.

Contract Awarded for Typhoon EW

Source: EADS

EADS Defense Electronics (Ulm, Germany) is to supply electronic core components for the EuroDASS electronic-warfare (EW) self-protection system of the Eurofighter Typhoon, which will enhance the survivability of the combat aircraft during military missions. As the company announced on Aug. 11, EADS Defense Electronics has received a contract worth $323.5 million for the delivery of highly specialized components for the 236 aircraft of Tranche 2 of the four-nation project.
As part of the EuroDASS consortium, EADS Defense Electronics is collaborating with the companies Selex (a joint venture of Finmeccanica and BAE Systems) in the UK, Elettronica in Italy, and Indra in Spain.
The EuroDASS consists of an integrated radar warner, radar jammer, and missile-warning system, which are all controlled by a central self-protection computer and interact with a chaff/flare decoy subsystem. The self-protection system of the Eurofighter Typhoon utilizes high-frequency and digital technologies that enable accurate real-time detection of threats and initiation of countermeasures. This involves EuroDASS warning the pilot about radar positions for surface-to-air missiles, enemy aircraft, and missiles approaching his own aircraft, as well as airspace surveillance radars. Possible countermeasures include jamming or deceiving radars and radar-guided missiles, as well as launching decoys and initiating evasive action.

For more on Eurofighter Typhoon's EW suite, see Eye of the Storm.

Australia Kicks Off Amphibious Ships Program

Source: Australian DoD

The Australian government has approved the first stage of the $2-billion Amphibious Ships project, which will provide the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with a capability to deploy land forces on operations.
Defense Minister Senator Robert Hill said the project will provide the RAN with two new amphibious ships to be used on operations such as combat operations, regional disaster relief, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and peace monitoring, and assistance to policing or military operations.
Australian shipbuilders will be invited to tender for either or both of two designs: the Spanish Navantia ship, at approximately 27,000 tons, and the French Armaris Mistral ship, with additional troop carrying capability, at approximately 22,000 tons.
"Each ship will preferably have the ability to transport up to 1,000 personnel, have six helicopter landing spots, and [have] provision for a mix of troop-lift and armed reconnaissance helicopters. It will also be able to transport up to 150 vehicles, including the new M1A1 Abrams tanks and armored vehicles," Senator Hill said. "Each ship will also be equipped with medical facilities, including two operating theaters and a hospital ward."
A request for tender will be released to the Australian shipbuilding industry in the second quarter of 2006. Senator Hill said the shipbuilder would be determined once a thorough financial and technical comparison was made between Australian bids and overseas build options.
"The government's preference is to see the ships built in Australia. However, Australian industry will need to demonstrate it can deliver the project at a competitive price," Senator Hill said.
The government has given first-pass approval to the project and committed $23 million towards the design-development phase of the project. This will enable Navantia and Armaris to begin work on defining the requirements for the ships, incorporating necessary Australian environmental, safety, and technical requirements.
The tender documentation will allow bidders to form teaming arrangements, submit fixed price bids, provide innovative solutions to improve price and schedule, and bid through-life support solutions.
"A lot of work has been done on assessing the two ships and also the capability of shipbuilders. Both ships are very capable and will be a quantum leap over our current capability," Senator Hill said.
"The Spanish ship would have a greater carrying capacity but construction of the first Spanish ship has only just started. In comparison, the French ship has slightly less carrying capacity but has been constructed and is undertaking its final tests with the French Navy."
For an Australian build, the contract would be awarded in early 2007 with the in-service date for the first ship being 2012.

For more on Australian naval modernization see Shipbuilder Chosen for Australian Destroyers.

UK Navy Helps Rescue Russian Sub

Source: UK Royal Navy

A UK Royal Navy team played a vital role in the successful international rescue of seven Russian sailors trapped in a sunken submersible.
The team, which deployed with a Scorpio 45 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), took about five hours to cut a Russian Priz submersible free after it became tangled in fishing nets and cables.
Commander Jonty Powis, the UK's submarine escape and rescue specialist, said: "The team is absolutely delighted to have helped to bring the men who were trapped in the submarine safely to the surface. This was a dangerous situation, with the rescue mission under pressure as oxygen levels in the submarine ran low."
Following a request from Russia for assistance, the Scorpio 45 and its six-strong operating crew were flown in a RAF Boeing C-17 aircraft to Petropaclask, Kamchatka, in Russia on Friday night.
The SCORPIO 45 unit was immediately transferred onto a Russian cable-laying vessel and, on Saturday night, sailed to the site of the incident, about 60 nautical miles offshore. A small team of divers and medical personnel from the US Navy accompanied the team.
The vessel arrived at the scene at around 10 p.m. UK time on Aug. 6. The Scorpio 45 was quickly deployed, reaching the stranded vessel about an hour later.
The first task for the ROV was to locate the trapped submarine without itself becoming entangled in the fishing nets and cables that had trapped the Russian mini-submarine. The team then swiftly began removing the nets with the ROV's remote controlled cable-cutting equipment.
This difficult operation took several hours, and once disentangled the Russian submersible was able to surface with all its crew safe and well.
UK Secretary of State for Defense John Reid, who had been very closely following events in Russia throughout the operation, said he was both very pleased and relieved with the outcome.
The SCORPIO 45 is owned by the Ministry of Defence and managed by James Fisher Rumic.
In a telephone call to Reid, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov paid tribute to the work of the British team in the rescue of the trapped Russian submersible.

For more on UK unmanned submersibles, see New Underwater Robots for UK Navy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

X-45A UCAVs Complete Combat Demonstration

A Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems X-45A demonstrator flies over a test range recently near Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Two X-45As completed their graduation combat demonstration flight August 10. (NASA image)

Another milesone in the progress of automated combat aviation was reached today when two jet-powered Boeing (St. Louis, MO) X-45A unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) performed a simulated strike mission as "wingmen."

In Boeing's words:

Two Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) X-45A unmanned aircraft successfully completed a graduation exercise when they flew their most challenging simulated combat mission today at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

For test flights 63 and 64, the X-45As departed from the base, climbed to altitude, and autonomously used their on-board decision-making software to determine the best route of flight within the "area of action" or AOA. The pilot on the ground approved the plan and the two unmanned vehicles entered the AOA, a 30 by 60 mile area within the test range, ready to perform a simulated Preemptive Destruction-Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses mission. The mission involved identifying, attacking and destroying pre-identified ground-based radars and associated missile launchers before they could be used to launch surface-to-air missiles.

During the test flight, the X-45A unmanned aircraft faced a simulated "pop-up" threat, used evasive maneuvers to avoid it, and autonomously determined which vehicle held the optimum position, weapons and fuel to attack the higher priority simulated target. Once the pilot authorized the attack, the unmanned aircraft simulated dropping weapons on the target. After engaging and destroying a second simulated target, the two X-45As completed their mission and safely returned to Edwards.

The next step for Boeing is to build and flight test three X-45C aircraft, two mission control elements, and integrate the J-UCAS Common Operating System (the software used and tested on the X-45A may be offered as a candidate for functionality in the development of the J-UCAS Common Operating System). The first X-45C will be completed in 2006, with flight test scheduled to begin in 2007. It will be 39 feet long with a 49-foot wingspan, cruise at 0.80 Mach at an altitude of 40,000 feet, carry a 4,500 pound weapon payload, and be able to fly a combat radius of more than 1,200 nautical miles.
Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems X-45As prepare to launch on a recent mission at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Two X-45As completed a critical combat demonstration flight August 10. (Boeing Photo)

The J-UCAS program involves more than developing an automated strike aircraft. Arguably, a penetration strike mission is a fairly straightforward problem in that any number of cruise and stand-off type weapons with inertial/GPS navigation can perform this right now (although they aren't expected to come home again). Generally, the mission plan of a strike weapon is generated with an eye toward guiding it around navigational hazards and air-defense zones. That the X-45As in the recent Dryden flight test were able to evade a "pop-up" threat that presumably was not programmed into their mission plans and were subsequently able to retask themselves to engage it while also completing their original mission is a significant step forward. It is worth noting that a human operator remained in the loop to "pull the trigger."

The key capability is for groups of unmanned strike aircraft to conduct missions cooperatively, just as manned aircraft strike packages do. Moreover, the unmanned and manned aircraft will all have to operate together in the same battlespace. In many ways this is going to be the most difficult challenge. The idea that unmanned aircraft are simply going to replace manned aircraft on dangerous combat missions is almost certainly off the mark. A much more likely vision of the future is small groups of manned aircraft working in concert with UAV swarms to overwhelm the enemy.

For more on UCAV programs in the US and Europe, see Drones That Sting.

Off the Wire, 8/10

First Flight of Modernized Hunter UAV

Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman (San Diego, CA) has taken a significant step toward modernizing the US Army's fleet of Hunter unmanned systems by conducting the first engineering flight of an enhanced, multimission variant of the current RQ-5A air vehicle, called the MQ-5B. The 66-minute check-out flight of the upgraded air vehicle – which features extended range, endurance, and weapon capabilities – was conducted July 8 at Libby Air Field at Ft. Huachuca, AZ.
Compared to the fielded RQ-5A unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which have flown more than 14,000 hours on combat missions in the Balkans and Iraq, the MQ-5B Hunter offers a longer wing span (34 ft. vs. 29 feet), longer maximum endurance (approximately 15 hours vs. the current 12 hours), and higher operating altitude (approximately 18,000 ft. vs. 15,000 ft.). The new air vehicle also features modern, dual-redundant avionics; the LN-251 GPS/inertial-navigation system, which improves the accuracy of target location; and a heavy-fuel engine.
The goal of the first MQ-5B flight was to evaluate the UAV's controllability and handling characteristics. After a dozen high-speed taxi runs, the air vehicle was commanded to lift off, and it did so successfully. At a safe altitude, the company's flight-operations team conducted a series of controllability tests at various airspeeds before safely landing the UAV. The flight validated predictions about the MQ-5B's performance developed from an earlier series of test flights conducted using a RQ-5A Hunter air vehicle retrofitted with some, but not all, of the MQ-5B's new components.
The company plans to use a subsequent set of test flights to test the MQ-5B's improved capabilities, including its avionics redundancy, camera-guided flight, mission-based return home, and its ability to accurately acquire targets.
Northrop Grumman operated the MQ-5B under the control of a prototype "One System" ground control station. The One System shelter is a standard Army ground control station that can be configured to fly a variety of Army UAVs, including the Shadow and Hunter. Northrop Grumman has previously demonstrated the ability of its prototype One System ground control station to operate the RQ-5A Hunter and an extended-range version known as E-Hunter. The company is currently integrating the Fire Scout into a pre-production version of the One System ground control station.
The first fielding of the MQ-5B Hunter using the Army's One System ground control station with an automated take-off and landing capability is planned for early 2006.
The MQ-5B flight is part of an on-going, collaborative effort by Northrop Grumman and the Army to address obsolescence, enhance the operational performance, and reduce the maintenance costs of the Hunter fleet. As the Army's primary UAV integrator, the company currently provides all depot-level maintenance, support, and engineering services for the Hunter system, which the company developed in partnership with Israel Aircraft Industries in the early 1990s.

For more on US Army efforts to improve its Hunter fleet, see US Army Airborne C2 System to Control UAVs.

Australian Tiger Launches Hellfire II

Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin (Orlando, FL) and Eurocopter (Marignane, France) have completed a successful live firing of the Hellfire II missile from Australia's Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH), verifying the weapon's integration with the aircraft. The Tiger is the first non-US platform to integrate the Hellfire II missile.
The first of six firings paves the way for the ARH to carry the Hellfire II family of missiles.
The Australian Army performed the first successful firing of a Hellfire II missile equipped with an inert warhead from the ARH at the Woomera test range in Australia's southern desert. A team representing the government of Australia, Australian Aerospace, Eurocopter, Lockheed Martin, and the US Army witnessed the milestone event.
The missile was launched in the lock-on-before-launch mode by a Eurocopter test pilot, targeting a simulated armored-personnel-carrier (APC) target 6-km downrange. The target was designated by the launching ARH helicopter. The missile struck dead center, leaving a gaping hole in the target.
An additional round of five firings is planned for later this year to complete ARH certification. Upon successful completion of these tests, the Hellfire system on the ARH will be fully qualified and cleared for use in operational missions.
Previously, Lockheed Martin and Eurocopter successfully completed a series of launcher and platform-integration tests, validating the interface of the precision-strike, semi-active, laser-guided Hellfire II missile and the all-digital M299 "smart" launcher system with the ARH.
The first two Tiger ARHs, equipped with the Lockheed Martin's Hellfire II missile and M299 launcher, were delivered to the Australian Army in 2004. The Australian Tiger ARH is derived from the Franco-German Tiger variant. It is armed with 70mm (2.75-in.) rockets, Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles, and a turreted 30mm gun, as well as an Australia-specific communications and data-transmission system.
The Hellfire II family includes four variations: the high-explosive anti-tank missile (AGM-114K), which defeats armored threats; the blast-fragmentation missile (AGM-114M), which defeats "soft" targets such as buildings, bunkers, light-armored vehicles, and caves; the millimeter-wave-radar Longbow Hellfire (AGM-114L), which provides fire-and-forget and adverse-weather capability; and the "thermobaric" Hellfire (AGM-114N), with a metal-augmented charge (MAC) warhead, which is devastating against enclosed structures but minimizes collateral damage. All Hellfire II variants have been used successfully in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), with more than 1,000 missiles fired to date.

For more on the Tiger combat helicopter, see Tiger Hunt.

Air-Defense Trainer for Royal Netherlands Army

Source: AAI

AAI Corp. (Hunt Valley, MD) has been awarded a $13.8-million contract by the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA) to provide an Advanced Moving Target Simulator (AMTS) system for air-defense training for the nation's armed forces, along with related logistics support for a period of 15 years.
The simulator, designated Stinger Trainer by the RNLA, will be installed at the Joint Air Defense School at De Peel AFB.
The AMTS is AAI's third-generation air-defense trainer. The contract requires development, installation, and testing of a fully immersive, computer-generated, simulated environment inside a 64-foot-diameter hemispherical dome trainer, where gunners and crew chiefs can be effectively trained and evaluated on the use of Stinger missiles against aggressor aircraft.

For more on Netherlands air defense modernization, see Dutch Patriots to Gain New Capabilities.

Paveway Testing Underway in UK

Source: Raytheon

Prime contractor Raytheon Systems Ltd. (RSL) (Harlow, UK) has commenced Paveway IV warhead qualification trials for the UK Ministry of Defense's Precision Guided Bomb (PGB) program. These have commenced ahead of schedule after delivery of hardware to QinetiQ at its Pendine and Shoeburyness facilities.
Trials completed to date include safety qualification at Shoeburyness and a performance trial at Pendine, using an inert PGB warhead.
The safety-qualification trials conducted to date included the following:
A 25-m drop trial involving two warheads, strapped to a PGB warhead pallet, being dropped onto a steel plate. The warheads met the requirements by surviving the drop and remaining safe for disposal. A Fast "cook off" trial in which an all-up-round configuration (including a live PGB warhead and fuze) were subjected to, and successfully passed, a liquid-fuel fire test. A slow "cook-off" trial in which a PGB warhead was subjected to a slow heating while in storage configuration. This trial was successful in meeting requirements. The results will be passed to the Defense Ordnance Safety Group (DOSG) and Insensitive Munitions Advisory Panel (IMAP), which are expected to provide a full endorsement of the safety trials.
The performance trial was conducted on the long sled track at QinetiQ Pendine, using an inert PGB warhead against a semi-infinite concrete target. The configuration under test also included a dummy inert fuze and the PGB tail kit. The trial represented a significant test of warhead performance and was a complete success.
A number of additional trials on the PGB warhead-qualification program remain to be conducted, including further safety and performance trials, which will include a further sled test and three arena tests. The arena trials will be conducted to generate data used in aircraft self-damage calculations and to demonstrate compliance with the fragmentation requirements of the PGB warhead.
A series of environmental trials are also being conducted at the US Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, CA.

Korea to Develop Anti-Submarine Missile

Source: Korea Overseas Information Service

A state-run defense research institute in the Republic of (South) Korea said on Aug. 4 that it plans to develop a sophisticated, long-range anti-submarine missile on its own by 2007 as part of programs to build a "cooperative, self-reliant" defense capability.
The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) said it has set aside a total of $990 million a year to build the anti-submarine missiles, which are being planned to equip 4,000-ton-class destroyers.
Last May, the Korean Navy launched its fourth 4,000-ton-class destroyer, Wang Geon, which is capable of waging anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare, as well as electronic-surveillance operations and stealth functions. The Wang Geon is the fourth and last 4,000-ton-class destroyer that the Navy has developed under its shipbuilding program, codenamed KDX-II ("KDX" standing for "Korean Destroyer Experimental").
The envisioned satellite-guided missile will be able to hit an enemy submarine located at a range of about 20 km.

Military to Dominate EO Systems Markets

Forecast International Inc. (Newtown, CT), a provider of market intelligence and analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems, and military electronics, predicts that production for combat forces will dominate the land- and sea-based electro-optical (EO) systems market:

An estimated $6.4 billion will be spent on the research, development and production of key electro-optical systems over the next 10 years, according to a new study by Forecast International. "The Market for Land & Sea-Based EO Systems" estimates that some 363,779 systems will be produced through 2014.

"Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, ITT, Thales, and Kollmorgen are pumping out large numbers of thermal weapon sights, night vision goggles, combat vehicle surveillance systems, and naval fire control systems for a large variety of applications," said the report's author, Andrew Dardine. "In some cases these devices are being fielded to troops as fast as they can be produced."

In terms of production, two of the biggest systems in the coming years will be ITT's PVS-7/14 series of night vision goggles and Raytheon's PAS-13 thermal weapon sight. Combined, an impressive total of some 253,950 of these systems are expected to be produced over the next 10 years, having a value of some $1.5 billion. In the case of the PAS-13, the more than $165 million in contracts awarded in 2004 has doubled monthly production rates for the system, to 1,000 units.

Naval EO sensor manufacturers are also expected to find ample opportunity in the years ahead as the navies of many nations seek to upgrade their fleets. In the case of the US company Kollmorgen, a recent order for its Non-Penetrating Periscope (NPP) illustrates that the systems will probably be in demand as long as submarines are being built or modified. These systems offer submariners a wide range of increased surveillance capabilities. An estimated 15 NPPs are expected to be produced through 2014 for the US Navy, at a value of $55.5 million.

Meanwhile, work is also under way on a number of EO research and development programs that will likely be the leaping off point for a whole new generation of systems. This is most apparent in the development of a wide array of directed energy (DE) systems and capabilities. "Although vastly expensive DE programs like the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL) system have been hampered by deep funding cuts, more practical, relatively less expensive DE systems are making steady advances toward possible production," Dardine said.

One interesting trend is how the US military is migrating from nightvision technology toward thermal imaging systems. Uncooled thermal imagers are achieving levels of performance on par with the previous generation of heavier, cooled systems. At the same time, cooled systems are also becoming smaller and lighter as miniturization is making digital arrays more efficient (for more on this, see Getting Cooler). This means that effective lighter systems are available for man-portable scopes and weapons sights. These sensors can also be packaged as EO payloads and sighting systems for vehicles, aircraft, and UAVs. The main US players for these applications are Raytheon (El Segundo, CA) and DRS Technologies (Parsippany, NJ). The military's demand for thermal imaging sensors is creating opportunities for players that have made their names in the civil protection and law enforcement markets, such as L-3 Wescam (Burlington, ON, Canada) and FLIR Systems (Wilsonville, OR).

Indian Military Satellites

Defense Industry Daily reports on India's efforts to develop an indigenous military satellite program:

India is building up a satellite-based Military Surveillance and Reconnaissance System that will become operational by 2007, allowing it to keep watch on developments in its area. "The program is in the advanced stages of development and is planned to be operational by 2007," Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Parliament recently...India has not launched any explicitly military satellites to date and the government remains tight-lipped, but experts believe the country has several options...

While many eyes are on China (see US DoD Ponders China Threat), the expansion of the Indian military is a story that is at least as significant in terms of the balance of power in Asia (see Indian Defense Budget Rises 7.8%, to $19B). Like China, the Indian economy is growing and as a result there is more money to be invested in defense. Rather than signaling an arms race, this seems to be a rational outgrowth of powerful nations who are getting their houses in order. Both India and China are faced with regional challenges that in the past have produced armed clashes and even conflict: Pakistan for India, and China's maritime "near abroad."

Space is another sort of near abroad that rising military powers will naturally want to exploit, if not dominate. For top-tier nations, military satellites perform essential duties in the areas of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); communications; and, increasingly, targeting. In general, space-based military assets have either been tolerated by or beyond the reach of potential opponents. However, as the number of nations with a stake in the high frontier increases, it is just a matter of time before freedom of navigation in space in wartime goes the way of freedom of the high seas (see Is Space Weaponization Inevitable?).

UPDATE: It is interesting to note this article from about how India and China have resolved their border dispute in the Himalayan Nathu La pass left over from the 1962 war.
Source: The Command Post.

Harriers Over Afghanistan

The News Market has a compendium of video releases from the UK Ministry of Defense about Harrier operations in Afghanistan. Operating from Kandahar airbase since September 2004, six Harrier GR7A aircraft have played a role in coalition efforts to rebuild Afghanistan. Video clips include air-to-air shots of the aircraft and pilot interviews (free, but registration is required):

By Paul Brook, UK MoD

Harrier GR7As, part of Joint Force Harrier, based at RAF Cottesmore have been employed in Afghanistan since September 2004. They have been constantly engaged in supporting both the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in rebuilding Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom in the south of the Country. They played a pivotal role in the successful Presidential elections last year and are planning to do the same again in the run up to the forthcoming Parliamentary elections in the autumn.

The Harriers of No 3 (Fighter) Squadron, under the command of Wing Commander Bruce Hedley, operate from Kandahar airbase in one of the most hostile environments in this war torn, barren province. The Squadron maintains crews at 30 minutes notice to launch throughout daylight hours to fly in support of Coalition forces. Wing Commander Hedley said that "their main role is to provide a reconnaissance and a deterrent effect to support troops on the ISAF and Op Enduring Freedom missions."

The insurgent and anti-government forces operate in the towns and remote mountainous regions in the southern provinces and along the Pakistani border. These regions are barren, hostile and are riddled with caves and opportunities for the insurgents to ambush coalition forces. The enemy fighters easily blend in with the local population which makes their identification particularly difficult.

The Harrier GR7A carries Enhanced Paveway precision guided bombs, rockets and Maverick missiles as well numerous sensors and defensive flares. However, it is testament to the resolve of the crews and physical presence of such a capable aircraft they have only had to resort to deploying munitions on less than 14 operations.

Wing Commander Hedley said that the "Coalition operations in the south of this enormous country are best supported by fast air. The Harrier is excellent in terms of its agility, adaptability and speed of response and this small detachment of only 6 aircraft has had a disproportionately large effect on the success of Coalition operations in the region."

Wing Commander Hedley said that "when the Harriers launch on operations they deploy a graduated response to situations." Having first identified precisely the location of the enemy, they will then fly low and fast over the enemy positions as a show of force and "their sheer presence often coerces the enemy to stop what they are doing."

The Harriers frequently support pre-planned missions against the insurgents. The commander of a US Army task force operating on the ground recently remarked on the excellent coordination and effect of the Harrier in theatre. He said "I have never had a mission where ground manoeuvre and air assets were so well linked. When we kicked in the door, less than a second later the Harriers were over the target building. All the insurgents were so shocked, there were no engagements and we secured the objective in less than a minute."

Pilots liaise closely over radio with the Coalition ground forces to ensure they correctly identify the locations of the enemy targets and the coalition forces to be precisely sure of the ground situation before launching weapons if they are required.

US Army troops who have been ambushed in this most hostile of environments regularly contact the Harrier crews to thank them for their outstanding support. Another US Army commander said "the battalion had been pinned down and could not get out of their vehicles due to direct fire." He went on to say that "they have never felt more secure in their lives once the Harriers screamed over."

The initial deployment to Kandahar was established by No 3 (Fighter) Squadron, who have recently returned to the theatre for a further 4 months tour of duty. They handed over responsibility initially to No 1 (Fighter) Squadron who then passed the mantle to No. IV (Army Cooperation) Squadron, all from RAF Cottesmore.

The deployed operating base, commanded by Wing Commander 'Arnie' Palmer, who is OC Operations Wing for RAF Cottesmore, is part of the NATO base in Kandahar which accommodates approximately 5000 Coalition forces. The overall British detachment has 6 Harrier GR7As and a total of around 180 personnel.

This austere, remote outpost presents our people with many demanding challenges. Flight Lieutenant Jamie MacGillivary, one of the Squadron pilots, said that "the heat is the greatest challenge with temperatures in the summer regularly in excess of 45oC." In the winter, the temperatures plummet and the base regularly floods, turning the dust bowl into a quagmire.

The base is 3300' above sea level which also presents the aircraft with performance issues, which coupled with high winds and dust makes the aircraft engineer's life extremely difficult. It is testament to their skill and determination that they have always been able to keep the aircraft ready for operations.

The US Forces are slowly rebuilding the runway but currently Harrier is the only fast jet fighter that is able to operate in the south of the country and is the sole asset readily available to support Coalition troops on the ground. Often there is less that 3500' of runway available from which to operate and even this regularly breaks up with the force of the Harrier's powerful Rolls Royce Pegasus engines.

Next year, the Headquarters Group of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is expected to deploy to command ISAF in Afghanistan and options are being discussed to determine the British military contribution in southern Afghanistan as part of the planned NATO expansion.

UPDATE: Defense Industry Daily has some more on UK Harriers in Afghanistan and Iraq, including a link to a report by the UK Royal Marines about Harriers in the Falklands War.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

IEDs Stump US Forces

Random bombings in Iraq have caused about three-fourths of the US casualties there. Can new technology like radiofrequency jammers keep them from going off? What about detection devices for finding them before they explode? The solutions provided in the field so far are just not getting the job done, regardless of any happy talk from industry contractors.

At recent conferences in Washington, DC, officers back from the front note that improvised explosive devices, as the bombs are called, are easily made and don't involve much high technology. Furthermore, the bombers are seemingly diabolical in their tactics, always adjusting their methods when they see patterns in the way patrols are conducted, houses are searched, etc.

For more on this, see "Shutting the Bomb Factory."

Information as a Weapons Program

Information is the new queen of battle, a throne previously occupied by airpower and artillery. Particularly as armed forces retool to become lighter and more mobile, information takes the place of numbers and armor. Enabling systems and warfighters to pass useful information in a timely way is the most important capability a military possesses. In war, information gaps are typically plugged by casualties and materiel. Uncertainty is countered by attrition and loss. Requiring forces to cover too much ground or perform too many tasks because the enemy's dispositions and intentions are unknown risks making them unresponsive and ineffective. On the other hand, accurate information about an enemy translates into superior planning, command and control, target engagement, and likelihood of victory. Information is also the best means to protect friendly forces. The ability to deploy, protect, and assure information networks is a force multiplier of the highest order.

It is not a surprise that some of the foremost military programs are information rather than system or platform based. Prime examples are the US Army's Future Combat System and the UK's Watchkeeper programs. The former is an ongoing effort to develop a network-centric architecture for land combat forces, while the latter is a battlefield intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability that relies heavily on networks of sensors carried by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In both cases, the customer set out a list of requirements and desired capabilities without specifying much in the area of platforms. Said an industry official involved in the Watchkeeper program: "Watchkeeper could have been a truck if we had shown that it would have been the best approach."

The most important avenue of technological progress today is integration rather than in specific sciences or disciplines, such as materials, optics, or computers. This is not to say that progress does not continue to be made in all areas related to military technology. Certainly, there are notable discrete technological developments that promise greatly enhanced capabilities, such as in the fields of imaging-infrared sensors and electronically scanned phased-array radar. However, the palette of technologies available to Western -- and increasingly Eastern -- military establishments is essentially the same. Advantage is found in how these technologies are integrated and packaged and then networked together with other systems. The ability to integrate new and existing technologies into networked systems of systems is far and away the most important means of achieving superiority on the battlefield.

Putting a Crimp in the "Kill Chain"

Developers of command-and-control systems like the US Army's AFATDS like to talk about how information on a target (an Al Queda operative in a pickup truck is the stereotypical example) can be instantly wisked to a multitude of different weapon systems, any of which can then by employed at the touch of a button.

But the so-called "sensor-to-shoot kill chain" is not usually nearly as fast as all that. It can actually take hours, not minutes, for commanders using these systems to make their decisions on what weapons to employ and whether to use them at all, in part because their software doesn't provide information on how the intelligence is collected.

For more on this see "Red Tape Entangles the 'Kill Chain.'"

Off the Wire, 8/9

Contractor Chosen for Extended-Range 'Warrior' UAV
Source: US DoD

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (San Diego, CA), is being awarded a $214.4-million contract for research, development, test, and evaluation of the Extended Range Multi Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ERMP UAV) system.
Work will be performed at facilities in six locations – San Diego, Adelanto, and Palmdale, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Hunt Valley, MD; and Huntsville, AL – and is estimated to be completed by Aug. 31, 2009.
The system-development-and-demonstration phase of the program is anticipated to take two years. The selected ERMP UAV system is named “Warrior” and leverages technologies from its predecessor, the Predator.
The US Army Aviation and Missile Command (Redstone Arsenal, AL) is the contracting activity.

For more on weaponized UAVs, see Armed Predator Shines in War on Terror.

US Special Ops Orders DIRCM for CV-22s
Source: Northrop Grumman

The US Special Operations Command awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (Rolling Meadows, IL) a contract worth up to $125 million to supply directional infrared-countermeasures (DIRCM) systems to protect the aircrews of its CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from infrared-missile attack.
Deliveries of DIRCM systems under an initial $31.8-million contract will continue through 2010. The initial units delivered will be small, multiband laser-transmitter-assembly variations of Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24 (V) DIRCM system, a laser-based countermeasures system.
The only such system currently in production, the AN/AAQ-24 (V) DIRCM is being installed on several hundred fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft for the US military and several allied countries.
Later deliveries will represent the first production order for Northrop Grumman's next-generation infrared-countermeasures system, which builds on the technology offered by the AN/AAQ-24 (V) DIRCM. In development for the US Air Force, the next-generation system is expected to be complete and certified for military use in 2006. The system's reduced size and weight will help extend aircraft operational range.

For more on DIRCM for CV-22, see DIRCM Flies on CV-22 Osprey.

Helping the Former USSR Dismantle WMDs
Source: Raytheon

A subsidiary of Raytheon (Waltham, MA) has been awarded a task order with a potential value of $82.1 million by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to provide Mission Support in the former Soviet Union (FSU).
Through this six-year task order, which has a base year and five one-year options, Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC (RTSC) will provide comprehensive logistics integration support, including equipment support and services, program-support services, infrastructure services, an enterprise-information-management system, and program management. Work will be performed in FSU countries, primarily in the Russian Federation.
This effort is part of the US government's Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program that assists successor states of the FSU in reducing their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and the infrastructure supporting them. Work on the task order, under the DTRA's IDIQ [indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity] CTR Integrating Contracts (CTRIC) Program, is expected to be completed by July 2011.
RTSC has been supporting the US Department of Defense's cooperative efforts with countries of the former Soviet Union since 1988. RTSC also provides the DTRA with elimination of strategic bombers and air-to-surface missiles in Ukraine; elimination of SS-25 missiles and launchers; assistance in the transportation of nuclear warheads in Russia to safe, secure storage sites; monitoring of an intercontinental-ballistic-missile final-assembly plant in Russia; logistics services to CTR equipment; and transportation of CTR cargo via air and sea to the former Soviet Union.
The CTRIC program is a multiple-award IDIQ contract with a $5-billion ceiling. As one of five awardees on the 10-year contract, which includes a five-year base period and one five-year option, Raytheon supports the US government in eliminating weapons of mass destruction and their supporting infrastructures.

For more on Russian-source intermediate-range missiles, see Bolt From the Blue.

Fiber-Optic Decoy Tested With F/A-18s
Source: BAE Systems

BAE Systems (Nashua, NH) and the US Navy have successfully completed developmental testing of the AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy (FOTD) on the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Block 3 program, which includes the AN/ALE-55 FOTD, will now begin formal development and operational testing. A contract award for the low-rate initial production of the ALE-55 is planned for early 2006. Contract award for full-rate production is expected to follow the successful completion of operational evaluation.
During the flight tests, conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, the FOTD was subjected to more than 60 risk-reduction flights to test the safe employment, endurance, and reliability of the FOTD under simulated combat maneuvers.
The BAE Systems' ALE-55 FOTD is a component of the joint US Navy/Air Force IDECM Radio Frequency Countermeasures (RFCM) system.
The ALE-55 FOTD system includes a high-power FOTD and deployment canister. Currently, the ALE-55 is slated for deployment on the F/A-18E/F aircraft.

For more on electronic warfare systems for the F/A-18, see US Navy Awards Surprise IDECM Contract.

US Army Expands Tactical SATCOM
Source: CACI

CACI International (Arlington, VA) announced that it has been awarded a delivery-order contract by the Intelligence and Information Directorate of the US Army Communication-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) to continue supporting the Army's Trojan satellite-communications (SATCOM) systems.
The seven-month effort has a potential value of $31 million. With this award, made under the $500-million, multiple-award technical, engineering, fabrication, and operations-support (TEFOS) contract vehicle that CACI announced in 2000, the company will support the Army in its efforts to integrate, test, and deploy Trojan systems worldwide. This is the fourth consecutive delivery order awarded to CACI in support of the Trojan program.
Trojan is a family of systems that enables the Army to manage and disseminate critical intelligence information. It includes rapidly deployable mobile communication systems that can be mounted on Humvees or onboard aircraft like the C-130, and that can be tailored to different types of operations. The systems provide a global reach-back network that links tactical commanders in the field with decision-makers at the national and joint strategic-intelligence levels. The program also includes the Trojan Special Purpose Intelligence Remote Integrated Terminal (SPIRIT), an intelligence-dissemination satellite terminal that provides secure access for intelligence-processing and -dissemination systems.
CACI provides both development and capability support for Trojan, including systems-design and -engineering, delivering hardware and software support, and helping deploy system upgrades to Army users.

For more on tactical communications for land forces, see Secure Soldier Communications.


UPDATE: See my Telly-Award-winning video, "Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice" here on eDefense Online. --MP 3/22/06

UPDATE 2: eDefense is no more, so I have posted the video here on my website. --MP 6/15/06

In January 2002, I had the privilege of interviewing Maj. Gen. Charles Sweeney, USAF (ret.), commander of the Nagasaki atom bomb mission. From the roughly hour-and-a-half of tape, I assembled the following narrative, which was published in JED, the Journal of Electronic Defense, in March 2002. On the 60th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, I thought it would be fitting to provide an account of the event in the commander's own words.

Nagasaki Mission Flight Crew, Tinian, 1945

Pictured from left to right standing: Captain Kermit Beahan (bombardier), Captain James Van Pelt (navigator), Lieutenant Charles D. Albury (pilot), Lieutenant Fred Olivi (co-pilot), and Major Charles Sweeney (aircraft commander).
From left to right kneeling: Staff Sergeant Edward Buckley (radar operator), Master Sergeant John D. Kuharek (flight engineer), Sergeant Raymond G. Gallagher (assistant flight engineer), Staff Sergeant Albert De Hart (tail gunner), and Sergeant Abe Spitzer (radio operator).

Maj Gen Charles W. Sweeney, USAF (ret.)

The atomic bombing of Japan forever changed the meaning of strategic bombing.

I had been waiting along with everybody else when shortly after noon on August 1, 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets came and told me that the mission would be carried out on August 6, weather permitting. Tibbets would fly the strike aircraft, soon to be named Enola Gay, carrying the bomb. After rendezvous over Iwo Jima, I would fly The Great Artiste in formation with him to the target and drop the instruments that would measure heat, blast, and radiation. It was unusual in a combat mission for instruments to be dropped.

My crew was the only one that was on both atomic missions. That is to say, we flew the wing for Tibbets with three sets of instruments and three scientists. When Tibbets told me that we would go again on August 9, and that I would be carrying the bomb, he also said that we would use the same tactics, the same small formation that was highly unusual. I guess it was to write a signature for the raids that the Japanese could identify. The idea was to give the enemy the one-two punch. The US had only two atomic bombs, but we wanted the Japanese to think that we had them coming, and coming, and coming.

Bock's Car wasn't my airplane. I had all the instruments on my airplane from the Hiroshima raid, and I thought rather than making the enlisted men move all the equipment from one plane to another, we'd just change airplanes. So Fred Bock flew my airplane, and I flew his.

The Air Force had experimented in the States to determine whether or not a Japanese fighter could get up to us in a B-29 Superfortress and be effective. The higher we could fly, the better. Therefore, we stripped training aircraft of all guns except the two 20mm cannons in the tail, which didn't affect the streamlining, taking 80 percent of the gun and ammo weight out of the aircraft. We had input from an Operations Analyst, on contract to the Air Force, who was a university president and a mathematician. He figured that the Japanese Zero fighters could get up to our altitude and make a head-on pass. But they could only make one, because they would fall out of a turn at that altitude. In other words, they were underpowered for what they would love to do.

When we stripped the turrets, we were not happy with the way they had to patch the bombers up, so Tibbets put an order in for 25 new airplanes, custom made. The Air Force ran it by Boeing, and the company accommodated the custom run with no turrets on one of its B-29 production lines. While we were at it, we ordered the planes with direct-injection engines and Curtis adjustable propellers. We got 25 new airplanes from the factory, and they were beautiful. There was also a lot more room inside. The aircraft were modified to carry the two atomic bombs we had. Any plane in the squadron was capable of carrying either atomic bomb, which were different from each other.

Before we got our new, stripped-down airplanes, we jury-rigged a regular B-29 to train with. This was adequate. We didn't have the tackle necessary to handle the bomb in our inventory, because we had never dropped a 10,000-pound bomb. So we sent my bombardier, Kermit Beahan, over to England to see what the Royal Air Force was doing with their blockbusters. They gave us drawings and a sample of their shackle, and we put the same thing into our aircraft. The custom planes we got from Boeing had the rig.

We were not going to worry about fighters, but antiaircraft was another story. Thirty-thousand feet was our new cruising altitude, and we didn't expect to get much up there. Nevertheless, a lucky shot could wreck the whole program. Our 509th Composite Group did not have any organic electronic-intelligence (ELINT) aircraft, as some of the other B-29 groups did. We used the resources of the other theater forces, namely the 20th Air Force. The B-29s were all based within 60 miles, on the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. We had other groups doing regular bombing missions and mining of Japanese harbors and approaches, and they would collect ELINT as a matter of course, and we had access to that. We took the information we got from theater intelligence, and that was as good as anybody had. For example, we might know that just northeast of a particular city there might be an emplacement, or just east or west or both.

We went up on August 9 with the primary target of Kokura. We did get flak, and we had some visibility restrictions at the target. We also had orders that we were to drop visually. The scientists wanted to get a visual record of what happened. So we were going into the target and began getting some flak that was breaking level, and Beahan the bombardier said that he could not see the aiming point. The aiming point was a big arsenal right on the river. We could have bombed by offset bombing. We knew where the target was from the contours of the river and various other known points on the ground.

We had trained to do offset bombing with these unique bombs. We had dropped lots of so-called "Fat Men." This was the same bomb casing as the Nagasaki bomb. They were 10,000-pound bombs filled with concrete, and we trained with these. In addition, each crew dropped a couple of Fat Men on Japan, filled with Torpex instead of nuclear stuff. Each airplane went to a different target. For example, Fred Bock went up one day to a chemical company -- a big, tremendous chemical company -- and dropped a Torpex bomb. It hit right smack on the nose, and it set off some sympathetic explosions -- one building going off after another, like dominoes going over.

But we had the orders to drop visually. When Beahan said he couldn't see the aiming point, I took a look myself and confirmed what he was seeing. By that time, we were beyond the target and had to set up for another run. So I changed my altitude to 31,000 feet to screw up the anti-aircraft guys and their fuzing. We came in again and still got the flak -- a little heavier -- and took another look. We did this a total of four times. I was still getting flak at 31,000 feet so I went to 32,000 feet. I could almost see the target, but not quite; it was hazy and smoky. Well, the smoke is what did us in. The big city of Yawata had got a firebombing the night before, and that was right next to Kokura. I wish they hadn't bombed them that night. The wind had shifted, and it was blowing that smoke over the target.

Now we had a fuel problem. Earlier, we had to wait for an aircraft at the rendezvous point over Fukushima, and we didn't have enough fuel to keep making passes over Kokura hoping that the visual conditions would improve. So, it was time to go to the secondary target of Nagasaki. The weather was fairly good over there. There were lots of cumulous clouds up to about 10,000 feet -- fluffy, summer clouds but lots of them and fairly high for that type -- and they were obscuring angular visibility. But we were able to see the aiming point. Beahan said, "I've got it! I've got it!"

There were no fighter or antiaircraft defenses. We made the run, with Fred Bock right on my wing with the scientific instruments. He also had Bill Lawrence, science writer for the New York Times, aboard. This was his lead:

"Guam, Thursday, Aug. 9 - Gen. Carl A. Spaatz announced today that a second atomic bomb had been dropped, this time on the city of Nagasaki, and that crew members reported 'good results.

"The second use of the new and terrifying secret weapon which wiped out more than 60 percent of the city of Hiroshima and, according to the Japanese radio, killed nearly every resident of that town, occurred at noon today, Japanese time. The target today was an important industrial and shipping area with a population of about 258,000.

"The great bomb, which harnesses the power of the universe to destroy the enemy by concussion, blast and fire, was dropped on the second enemy city about seven hours after the Japanese had received a political 'roundhouse punch' in the form of a declaration of war by the Soviet Union."

When I was first told about this thing, it was in September of '44 and a lot of my friends had been killed in Europe, guys to whom I was very close. My heart was broken for them, not to mention the Marines and the others throughout the Pacific and elsewhere in the war. I thought, wouldn't it be nice if we had a wand that we could wave to stop the war. One day a certain military- intelligence officer picked me up in a jeep, took me out into the desert, and told me that I was going to be briefed on what the US was planning. He told me that we were working on one bomb that would turn a whole city into this, and he just threw a handful of that desert sand. And I said to myself, "My God. This could be the magic wand."

All we do for the next ten months is work, work, work. We build the organization and train it. And then we get over Hiroshima and bingo, it works. We get over Nagasaki, and it works again. I wasn't surprised. There were a couple of million guys sitting in boats that would be able to go home instead of invading Japan. Maybe they were surprised.

We had a plane in the group called Necessary Evil. That about says it.

Major Charles Sweeney, Tinian, 1945

In Memoriam
Charles W. Sweeney joined the US Army Air Corps in April 1941 as an aviation cadet. In 1944, he was selected to train all aircrews assigned to Project Silverplate, part of the Manhattan Project. In May, 1945, Major Sweeney became commander of the 293rd Bombardment Squadron, part of the 509th Composite Group assigned to the island of Tinian in the Western Pacific, where he was awarded a Silver Star for the Nagasaki mission. He retired from the Air Force in 1976, with the rank of major general. General Sweeney died on July 16, 2004.


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