Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Mil Tech — Raytheon Upgrading U.S. Navy Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems

Nov 03 2014

Published by under Technology

The U.S. Navy has chosen Raytheon Co. to overhaul, upgrade, and remanufacture the Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems (CIWS) in the Navy’s fleet.

CIWS is an integral element in the Navy’s Fleet Defense In-Dept concept and the Ship Self-Defense Program. Work on the $115.5 million contract is expected to be conducted at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., facilities and be completed by September 2017.

Phalanx CIWS supports multiple roles in ship self-defense and is carried on most U. S. Navy combatant ship classes, including carriers, destroyers, cruisers, and amphibs.

Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar and 20 mm gun system that automatically acquires, tracks, and destroys enemy threats that have penetrated all other ship defense systems. The Phalanx CIWS footprint is 92 by 121 inches, its height is 188 inches, and it has a working circle of 107 inches. On deck, Phalanx weighs 13,600 pounds, which includes 1,500 rounds of its enhanced lethality cartridge.

“The primary mission of CIWS is terminal defense against anti-ship threats and high speed aircraft penetrating outer fleet defensive envelopes,” says Rick McDonnell, director of close-in defense systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. “Its secondary mission is Surface mode (Block 1B) to counter small fast surface craft and slow flying helicopters and aircraft.”

McDonnell points out CIWS automatically detects, evaluates, tracks, and alerts the operator to engage anti-ship cruise missiles and high-speed aircraft threats. He notes the current Block 1B Phalanx variant has the ability to counter small fast surface craft and slow flying helicopters and aircraft through the addition of a fused multi-spectrum (infrared/radio frequency) track capability.

“CIWS also can be integrated into existing ship combat control systems to provide additional sensor and fire control support to other installed weapon systems,” McDonnell says. “Additionally, the system allows the operator to visually identify threats.”

McDonnell says the Phalanx CIWS entered the U.S. fleet in 1979 and “has been continuously evolving to pace the threat, [to] improve reliability, and to exploit inherent capabilities.”

He adds CIWS is an international program with almost 600 systems in service with the U.S. Navy and 23 other nations.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.

 

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Mil Tech — ARES Robotic VTOL Delivery System

Oct 06 2014

Published by under Technology,Uncategorized

Difficult terrain and threats, such as ambushes and IEDs, can make ground-based transportation to and from the front line a dangerous challenge.

To negate those obstacles for the U.S. military, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works ® is leading a team with Piasecki Aircraft to develop the next generation of compact, high-speed vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) delivery systems under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) program.

An artist concept shows the ARES vertical takeoff and landing delivery systems being developed by Lockheed Martin for DARPA.

An artist concept shows the ARES vertical takeoff and landing delivery systems being developed by Lockheed Martin for DARPA.

The ARES VTOL flight module is designed to operate as an unmanned platform capable of transporting a variety of payloads. The flight module has its own power system, fuel, digital flight controls, and remote command-and-control interfaces. Twin tilting ducted fans would provide efficient hovering and landing capabilities in a compact configuration, with rapid conversion to high-speed cruise flight.

Module missions could include cargo resupply, casualty evacuation, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).

Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, says, “Many missions require dedicated vertical takeoff and landing assets, but most ground units don’t have their own helicopters. ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units.”

He notes the program’s goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground based threats, thus supporting expedited and cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success.

The program envisions an ARES flight module would travel between its home base and field operations to deliver and retrieve different types of detachable modules, each designed for a specific purpose, including cargo pickup and delivery, casualty extraction, or airborne ISR capabilities.

DARPA expects the flight module to have a useful load capability of up to 3,000 pounds, more than 40 percent of the takeoff gross weight of the aircraft.

Ground units would direct flight modules using apps on ruggedized tablets or mobile phones. Unmanned flights are planned initially, but ARES plans a future path toward semi-autonomous flight systems and user interfaces for optionally manned/controlled flight.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.

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Mil Tech — Raytheon Building More TOW Missiles for U.S. Army, Marine Corps

Sep 02 2014

Published by under Technology,Uncategorized

Raytheon Co. Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., has been awarded a $391.5 million contract to build TOW missiles for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

Raytheon's TOW 2B is the principal anti-tank missile being supplied to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. (Photos courtesy of Raytheon Missile Systems.)

Raytheon’s TOW 2B is the principal anti-tank missile being supplied to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. (Photos courtesy of Raytheon Missile Systems.)

The tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) weapon system includes the multi-mission TOW 2A, the TOW 2B Aero, and the TOW Bunker Buster missiles, which will be built in varying quantities over the course of the multiyear contract.

The TOW 2A is an anti-tank and anti-light armor weapon, a direct-hit weapon designed to be a tank killer. The TOW 2A practice version has an inert warhead but with all the flight characteristics of an active missile.

Ed Dunlap, TOW business development manager for Raytheon Missile Systems, says the TOW 2B is Raytheon’s principal anti-tank, fly-over, shoot-down weapon.

“The missile flies over the tank and based on its sensors, fires two warheads down onto the top of the tank, which is the softest part of any tank,” Dunlap says. “The TOW 2B uses two warheads that are explosively-formed penetrators, where a molten slug comes out of the warhead and shoots down through the top of the tank.”

The TOW Bunker Buster was developed by Raytheon at the beginning of the current operations in Iraq in order to defeat structures, bunkers, and light vehicles, Dunlap points out. The Bunker Buster also is a direct hit weapon.

The missiles use a new propulsion system Raytheon developed with ATK Missile Products Group in 2001 that incorporates a rocket motor designed with Insensitive Munitions (IM) features to be less likely to react explosively to bullet and fragment impacts.

The new propulsion system, called the LBS motor for Launch, Boost, Sustain, “allows the missile to go father and get to the average missile range quicker,” Dunlap notes. He says a TOW equipped with the LBS motor, as all contract TOW missiles will be, “can get to four clicks (kilometers) in less time” than the previous design took.

Dunlap says the LBS system is designed to launch the missile out of its tube, followed by the boost stage that gets the TOW up to speed, and then the sustain phase where the motor keeps the missile traveling for a longer period of time while maintaining a longer optimum speed.

Dunlap adds that Raytheon is working with its overseas supplier, Talus UK, on an improved sensor for the TOW 2B version and for a new fusing system for all models.

“Both of these developments might cut some cost out of the missile, as well,” he observed. “We will take them to the Army, which is following what we are doing, and may try to add those improvements to missiles in later contracts.”

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.

 

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Disabled Veterans Transition to STEM Fields

Aug 26 2014

CathedralofLearningReturning from the battlefield isn’t always easy – and trying to fill in the holes, referred to as “Swiss cheese” by one veteran, can make the transition even harder.

Now there’s a program at the University of Pittsburgh that gives veteran students living and housing stipends, and enrolls them in a program called ELeVATE (Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering). Veteran mentors help the students through rehabilitation research in STEM fields for academic credit.

Inside HigherEd describes the program this way:

But addressing other problems – such as an inability to relate to non-veteran peers, or cognitive and physical disabilities caused by injury – requires painstaking day-to-day work.

Such work is happening at the University of Pittsburgh, where a college transition program for disabled veterans interested in STEM disciplines has earned the admiration of national student veterans’ groups…

…The lab specializes in assistive technology – devices for people with disabilities — and receives funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rory Cooper, the lab’s director, is an Army veteran who sustained a spinal cord injury while serving.

All the participants have cognitive or physical impairments – most commonly traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The program, called ELeVATE (Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering) began in summer 2011, with the help of a $470,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Five or six veterans participate each year. The fourth group of participants finished the program at the end of July…

qoltcThe program at the University of Pittsburgh has gained the backing of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the notice of the American Legion. Hopefully ELeVATE will successfully help integrate disabled veterans into STEM fields, and become a model for other universities in the future!

Cathedral of Learning (9279174346)” by Brandon SheaCathedral of Learning Uploaded by crazypaco. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Mil Tech — Stealthy Hybrid Electric Motorcycle Under Development

Aug 04 2014

Published by under Technology

The hybrid electric bike is being developed in partnership with BRD Motorcycles, an all-electric motorcycle manufacturer in San Francisco. The new platform will combine Logos Technologies’ quieted, multi-fuel hybrid-electric power system with a cutting-edge off-road electric motorcycle design being developed by BRD.

The RedShift MX motorcycle will form the basis for the design of the silent, stealthy all-electric motorcycle for the U.S. military.

The RedShift MX motorcycle will form the basis for the design of the silent, stealthy all-electric motorcycle for the U.S. military.

Logos Technologies of Fairfax, Va., has received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research grant to develop a hybrid-electric motorcycle with near-silent capability for the U.S. military. The motorcycle would allow small military teams to move long distances quickly and stealthily across harsh terrain.

Marc Fenigstein, chief executive officer of BRD, says his company’s consumer RedShift MX model is the vehicle on which the military bike will be based. “The RedShift MX is a professional level motorcycle platform designed for motocross racing,” he notes, “which is one of the most abusive environments possible for a motorcycle with dust, mud, massive ruts, and bumps and jumps of over 100 feet on some tracks.”

Wade Pulliam, manager of advanced concepts for Logos Technologies, points out Logos has a hybrid-electric propulsion system that’s already been proven on a prior aircraft program, and the fact that the RedShift MX already is in a low rate of production, will give the project a head start toward field deployment.

Pulliam says the hybrid bike easily can maintain a range of 100 miles between refuels and, while operating in near-silent, all-electric mode, is capable of traveling a “militarily significant” proportion of its full range (as requested by DARPA).

With regard to noise-level requirements, the hybrid bike must maintain a 75 decibel level at 7 meters during normal operation.

“To put that in perspective,” Pulliam notes, “that is roughly the same volume as a telephone’s dial tone in a listener’s ear. When the bike is running solely on electric power, the noise level will drop significantly to just the sound of the tires.”

Fenigstein points out a major advantage of the vehicle’s hybrid drive train is that range isn’t limited by battery capacity.

“Think ‘range-extended electric’ like a Chevy Volt,” he says, “except that on this bike, the operator is using the 100-percent-electric mode for tactical reasons rather than efficiency.”

Pulliam adds that another interesting feature of the bike is it can be a supply of auxiliary power for personnel in the field.

 “This was one of the critical insights made by DARPA,” he says. “More and more, we are seeing electronic technology on the battlefield, from tablets and sensor systems to night vision systems. We plan to make it possible for our bike to allow operators in the field to recharge their devices from the battery.”

Pulliam says the hybrid bike could serve as a mobility option for the U.S. Marine Corps as it implements its plan to move to small units covering larger areas, and the bike also could be tactically beneficial for Special Forces who can be inserted with their bikes via aircraft, like helicopters or V-22 Ospreys, and be able to close the distance to an objective rapidly, switching to silent mode for the final leg of the approach to maintain speed as well as an element of surprise.

“It also would allow for patrols and excursions outside of forward operating or fire bases more quickly and at greater range than on foot,” Pulliam says, “and much more quietly than in other vehicles.”

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.

 

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