Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Mil Tech – Textron to Develop U.S. Navy’s Common Unmanned Surface Vessel

Jan 05 2015

Published by under Technology

Textron Systems division AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., has been awarded a $33.8 million contract by the U.S. Navy to provide common unmanned surface vessel (CUSV) support to the unmanned influence sweep system (UISS) program.

The Navy will use the CUSV to sweep magnetic and acoustic mines.

Bill Leonard, program director for unmanned surface systems at Textron Systems, says the CUSV will be used on both Freedom and Independence class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).

“The 11 meter long vessel looks like a typical boat, but has no helm area,” Leonard says. “It’s launched off of the LCS, is self-propelled and autonomously controlled, although a person in the LCS monitors the CUSV all the time.”

Once the CUSV completes its mission, it returns autonomously to the LCS. Leonard notes.

The current CUSV is Textron’s fourth generation and has undergone more than 1,900 hours of in-water operation. Leonard points out that the latest version of the CUSV features design improvements that support missions in high seas, as well as carrying a large configurable payload bay. The CUSV is powered by dual diesel engines.

The CUSV is designed to sweep all three types of mines currently in use — acoustic, magnetic and acoustic/magnetic, Leonard says.

“The vessel puts an acoustic noise into the water to fool the mine into thinking a target is there and causing the mine to detonate,” he says. “In the case of a magnetic mine, which looks for the magnetic signature of a large ship, the CUSV puts out a magnetic signature to get the mine to detonate. The acoustic and electrical energy the CUSV puts into the water fools all those types of mines.”

Leonard adds that the CUSV is designed to be survivable.

“It can handle the shock of a mine detonating, even though those detonations can be very powerful explosions,” he says. “The hull design is an all aluminum structure which is more forgiving than a composite-type structure. We also shock mount many of the vessel’s components so they can tolerate the kinds of forces generated by a very high burst of shock.”

The signals are put in the water by the CUSV through a towed acoustic generator, Leonard says.

“The CUSV launches its cable and noise generator, and drags them through the water,” he says. “If there’s a mine detonation event, when the vehicle comes back to the LCS, it is inspected before being sent on another mission.”

The CUSV, which Textron Systems expects to deliver to the Navy in 2016, is designed to be a multi-mission craft, according to Leonard.

“We can take a payload package off of the CUSV and put a mine hunting system on it in place of the sweeping system,” he says. “It can be a great tool in clearing mines and one of the big advantages of unmanned systems is that you’re taking the person out of the minefield.”

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 — Marines Order Wasp AE Small UAS

Dec 01 2014

Published by under Technology

The U.S. Marine Corps have placed an order worth almost $22 million with AeroVironment Inc. for RQ-12 Wasp AE small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in what is the largest single procurement of the ground and water-capable Wasp AE.

Photo courtesy of AeroVironment Inc.

Photo courtesy of AeroVironment Inc.

The Marines recently unveiled its next generation small UAS family of systems and is adding the RQ-12 Wasp AE as the short range, or micro, solution to its existing portfolio made up of the AeroVironment RQ-118 Raven and the RQ-20A Puma AE. The Puma AE is the Marine Corps’ long-range solution, and the Raven fills the medium range.

The short-range Wasp AE weighs 2.8 pounds, operates for up to 50 minutes at a range of up to 5 kilometers, and delivers live, streaming color and infrared video from its pan-tilt-zoom Mantis i22 AE gimbaled payload. Wasp is launched by hand and capable of landing on the ground or in fresh or salt water, says Steven Gitlin, vice president of marketing strategy for AeroVironment.

“The Wasp platform has continuously evolved, as have Raven and Puma,” Gitlin points out. “We constantly listen to our customers and understand what works well, then look at new technology to enhance the capability of our systems.”

Gitlin notes the gimbaled Mantis i22 payload is the smallest AeroVironment offers at 275 grams and allows the UAS operator to easily switch between color and thermal video at the touch of a button without physically swapping the payloads.

“The Mantis payload gives a higher level of visual fidelity and continuous 360-degree observation of an item of interest, regardless of the air vehicle’s flight direction,” Gitlin says.
The Wasp AE offers the same environmental technologies as Puma AE and can land on the ground or on salt or fresh water, Gitlin adds. “After a salt water landing, the operator simply rinses off the Wasp AE and relaunches it with a fresh battery,” he says.

Gitlin points out the Wasp AE expands the capabilities of the previous Wasp model “by being more flexible, durable, having a longer flight time and increased sensor capabilities.”
He notes Wasp AE carries its payload on its underside and that the tail’s vertical stabilizer of the UAS looks as if it is upside down. “The Wasp AE is designed to be able to land on rough surfaces,” Gitlin says, “so prior to landing the vehicle flips over and lands on a padded landing surface on its top in order to protect its sensors.”

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 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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