Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Mil Tech — Northrop Grumman Develops Electronic Attack Payload for Small UAV Bat

Apr 03 2014

Published by under Technology

Northrup Grumman's Bat UAV

Northrup Grumman’s Bat UAV

Bat, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for medium altitude, multi-mission work, developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. of Redondo Beach, Calif., recently got an added mission when the company demonstrated an internal miniature electronic attack payload for the UAV.

The demonstration was carried out during the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) event held at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in Ridgecrest, Calif. The Bat demonstration involved the jamming of radars, and the Bat flew a number of missions with manned fixed-wing aircraft and other unmanned platforms.

George Vardoulakis, the company’s vice president of medium-range tactical systems, says, “Bat continues to demonstrate capabilities that can normally only be achieved by larger, more expensive unmanned aircraft.”

The Bat can be configured with differently sized fuel tanks and sensor payloads to meet varied missions — intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), tactical, communications relay, or target acquisition. Its design allows payloads to be changed quickly for rapid, expeditionary, deployment.

The UAV has both 10-foot and 12-foot wingspan variants, and Northrop Grumman notes it has a 20-foot wingspan design under development. Because of its blended body design, the Bat is able to carry a payload volume of 3.2 cubic feet and up to 30 pounds.

An additional advantage to the Bat is it is launched from a pneumatic-hydraulic rail system so it doesn’t need a runway, meaning it can be launched from land or at sea.

Bat incorporates both a Hirth electronic fuel injection engine and a heavy fuel variant, which runs on a JP-8 variant, the most widely used fuel variant in the U.S. military. It has a 15 hour flight duration and a ceiling of 15,000 feet and can travel up to 70 mph.

Northrop Grumman reports  Bat has been deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Special Operations Command for ISR work, as well as to perform IED detection for troops.

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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Stay Connected During Deployment With Social Media

Mar 12 2014

familycommunicationOur friends at the Real Warriors Campaign have some advice on using social media to stay connected to loved ones during deployments, transitions and separations – and check out the other resources they offer on how to stay safe using social media during a deployment and even support friends stationed overseas:

Social media provides a means for service members to connect and interact with friends and loved ones daily. With social media, service members can maintain communication with friends and family through transitions and separations. Read this article from Real Warriors to learn how social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram and Pinterest can help facilitate long distance correspondence and allow service members to stay connected regardless of their location.

With “more computing power in our pockets than Apollo had in orbit,” military families are finding ways to communicate that transcend the traditional pen and paper. Deployed parents are able read their children bedtime stories and even leave virtual sticky notes on the family bulletin board. Learn what tools servicemembers and their families find most useful and get helpful tips. MOAA members can login to read this recent feature “During Deployments, Family Time Goes High-Tech.”


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Mil Tech — M1A1 Abrams Tanks Get a New Lease on Life

Mar 03 2014

Published by under Technology

Another dozen M1A1 Abrams Tanks will receive M1A2 Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) V2 configurations, under a $72.7 million contract awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, Mich., by the U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command.

Calling the M1A2 SEP V2 “the most technologically advanced digital tank,” General Dynamics notes the M1A2 SEP V2 includes improved color displays, day and night thermal sights, a commander remote operated weapon station (CROWS II), a thermal management system, and a tank-infantry phone.

Didem Martuscelli, program manager for General Dynamics Land Systems, says older M1A1 Abrams tanks inducted into the process are torn apart at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama where reusable parts are refurbished and then sent with the tank structure to the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (formerly Lima Army Tank Plant) in Ohio.

A M1A2 Abrams tank with the Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) V2

A M1A2 Abrams tank with the Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) V2

“That’s where we assemble them into the M1A2 SEP V2 configuration with new parts that we either procure or manufacture, along with the Army’s refurbished parts,” Martuscelli says.

The upgrades includes color displays for the driver, commander, and gunner, compared to the M1A1′s monochrome displays, as well as thermal sights for each position, giving the commander situational awareness and gunners improved fields of fire.

“New to the M1A2 system is where the commander has an independent thermal viewer that gives him 360-degree situational awareness,” Martuscelli observes. “The commander can be searching for a target while the gunner is working on a different target.”

Another enhancement in the upgrade is the CROWS II, which allows the commander to fire smaller weapons remotely without opening the tank’s hatch.

“The government provides the system to us and we integrated it into our production line,” Martuscelli points out.

A Thermal Management System not available on the M1A1 platform is fitted to the upgraded tanks to allow for additional cooling of the vehicle crew space.

“We also do a number of upgrades to the tank’s suspension system to handle the additional weight of the added systems and armor,” Martuscelli notes.

Peter Keating, General Dynamics public information officer, says nearly 400 suppliers around the country are involved in the project.

“Our $72.7 million contract is a little more than half of the $114 million project,” Keating says. “The government buys track, engines, and gun tubes from government suppliers or depots. For example, Allison builds the transmissions, Honeywell does the engines and the gun tubes are made at Watervliet Arsenal in New York.”

Keating adds, “Because we use the hull and turret of the existing tanks and made modifications to them, along with other components that get refurbished, there’s a 70 percent savings over if we were to built the tank from scratch.”

The production schedule for this batch of M1A2 conversions runs through December 2015.

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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Lasers On the Battlefield?

Feb 11 2014

Published by under Technology

HighEnergyLaserBeamImage from the Lockheed Martin laser beam test video.

Are we close to getting lasers on the battlefield? We might be, if Lockheed Martin has anything to do with it:

Described as a “weapons grade” laser, the 30-kilowatt beam combines many fiber lasers operating a slightly different wavelengths into a single “near perfect” band of light. Lockheed says the upgraded system produced the highest power ever documented while still retaining beam quality and electrical efficiency and using 50% less electrical power than solid-state lasers.

Eventually, these systems could be installed on military platforms such as aircraft, helicopters, ships, and trucks.

What could one of these high-energy lasers do to a drone or other enemy aircraft? Check out the test Lockheed did back in May of last year:


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Mil Tech — More U.S. Navy Ships To Be Outfitted With BriarTek MOBI Systems

Feb 03 2014

Published by under Technology

Sailors aboard the USS Donald Cook wear the BriarTech MOBI (man overboard identification) device in the blue pouches near the right rib.  (Photo courtesy of BriarTek)
Sailors aboard the USS Donald Cook wear the BriarTek MOBI (man overboard identification) device in the blue pouches near the right rib.

(Photo courtesy of BriarTek)


Approximately 30 U.S. Navy ships under new construction will be fitted with the Man Overboard Identification (MOBI) system, which is an automatic warning system that sends an alert to a receiver aboard ship if a sailor falls overboard.

Bill Dull, owner and director of BriarTek Inc. of Alexandria, Va., says the $8 million Navy contract is for the acquisition of MOBI transmitters, receivers, antennas, and displays, as well as system assessments and personnel training.

Smaller than a pager and only slightly larger than a box of wooden matches, the 2.5-ounce MOBI transmitter is powered by a replaceable battery.

“The MOBI transmitter has an integrated strobe light and is worn by the individual sailor,” Dull points out. “Once it’s submerged in water for three to five seconds, it sends a signal to a MOBI receiver mounted on the bridge of the ship.”

The receiver, he notes, is the second part of the MOBI system that sounds an alarm when it receives a transmission and displays the unique identifier of the sailor wearing the unit and the ship from which he fell. The third major component of the MOBI system is a radio direction finder (RDF) aboard the ship that allows the ship to find the victim, oriented by the ship’s bow.

“The RDF on the ship is can be lowered into a RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) or other small craft, if necessary,” Dull says.

The current contract for new ship production is a follow-on contract, Dull says.

“We currently have full MOBI systems on every major ship in the U.S. Navy, which is approximately 240 ships,” he points out. “The Navy modified its flotation devices so the float coats and inherently buoyant floatation devices have a pouch to hold an integrated MOBI.”

Dull adds that in approximately 35 percent of man-overboard events, the individual is not wearing flotation or is someone who would wear if on duty but fell overboard while off duty and not wearing flotation.

As long as a sailor is wearing flotation while doing their job on a ship, they will be protected by MOBI,” he said. “Since the inception of installation eight years ago, the system has recovered 37 sailors, according to publicized accounts of the events. We are confident there are many more than that which have not been publicized.”

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

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