US military, technology, arms, tactics

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kit
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby kit » 16 Apr 2019 05:38

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/greece-eyes-f-35s-as-f-16-replacement-457481/

Greece operates the s300..so they are not worried about that ??

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 16 Apr 2019 06:00

kit wrote:https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/greece-eyes-f-35s-as-f-16-replacement-457481/

Greece operates the s300..so they are not worried about that ??


Greece has had the S-300 since the 90s. And, there are other topics, between the two, that are of interest too. Greece and Russia have been close for centuries. See if the following helps:

Why didn't NATO object to the Greek acquisition of the Russian S-300 missile system?

However, my feel is that the S-300 has been compromised. Here is another article that is very interesting.

The true threat of S-300s is not that they’re powerful, but that they’re Russian

In addition to supplying Syria with the S-300, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu also said Monday that Russia would “jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft attacking targets in Syria.”


So, just having the S-300 is not sufficient?

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Apr 2019 06:13

kit wrote:https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/greece-eyes-f-35s-as-f-16-replacement-457481/

Greece operates the s300..so they are not worried about that ??



There is no FMS notification for Greece. Depending upon the time frame being considered (likely late 2020's/ early 2030s) it may or may not be raised but there is certainly a possibility that someone in the process raises that as a point of concern. Also the nature of the acquisition and future plans are different. Greece essentially got passed the S-300 as a compromise to bring to rest an escalation between Turkey and Cyprus. They aren't acquiring strategic air-defense systems from Russia with the aim of integrating them on a common network and IADS system that will also have the F-35 integrated into it.

By the time Greece ends up fielding the F-35A their S-300 acquisition would have been more than 2-3 decades old so very much a legacy system. Big difference from the Turkey situation. Greece is not a partner on the JSF program. A formal request for F-35A's for Greece would be evaluated just as any other FMS case is evaluated. Turkey being a program partner does not need to go through the FMS process and it is certainly prudent from the US perspective to re-evaluate that relationship and see if Turkey really needs to be a part of both the industrial program (with its industry set to make Billions from the JSF program over the next several decades just as it has with the F-16 program) and as an operator.
Last edited by brar_w on 16 Apr 2019 07:23, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Apr 2019 06:18

U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II arrives for first Middle East deployment

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Three F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxi after landing at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 15, 2019. The F-35A Lightning II is deployed to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility for the first time in U.S. Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)


David Cenciotti provides additional details. Seems they are deploying in groups of 4 with about 12 expected to deploy to the UAE -

U.S. Air Force F-35A 5th Generation Aircraft Have Arrived in UAE for Type’s First Deployment To The Middle East.


Four Lightning II belonging to the active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, have just arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE, for the F-35A’s first deployment to the Middle East.

Flying as “Trend 41” and supported by three tankers (“Gold 91-93”), the F-35s made a stopover in Moron Air Base, Spain. Additional F-35s are on their way along the same route. Four F-35A landed at Moron on Apr. 15: AF 15-5180, -5181, -5163, -5176). Based on reports, at least 12 F-35A Lightning II should deploy to the UAE.


Image

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AF 15-5194 and 15-5192 departing Moron AB, Spain on Apr. 15, 2019. (Image credit: David M. Parody)
Last edited by brar_w on 16 Apr 2019 18:10, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Apr 2019 09:23

Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor reaches 300kt


Bell pushed its V-280 Valor tiltrotor to 300kt (556km/h) in a March test flight, surpassing its previous top speed for which it is named, 280kt.

Believing that it has sufficiently proven the rotorcraft’s high-speed performance, the aircraft manufacturer will spend the coming months testing its low-speed manoeuvrability.

“We are flipping to more operational type manoeuvres and are looking at more low-speed agility stuff,” says Ryan Ehinger, programme manager for the V-280. “We want to show level one handling qualities. And, we’ve already demonstrated that in yaw and pitch. And, we are close to that on roll. We just need to get a few more test days with low winds to demonstrate that.”

Lockheed Martin's Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor (PDAS) system also flew for the first time aboard the V-280 in March.

Bell recently completed some initial tests on the tiltrotor’s ability to facilitate fast-roping deployment of troops. No personnel slid down a rope that was dangled from the side door of the aircraft, though Bell says the fact that the line remained stable during a low hover, and did not get blown around in the downwash, reassured the company that the descent is possible. Bell believes the rotorcraft’s ability to disembark troops is one of its advantages.

“When you’ve got two giant side doors, 1.8m (6ft) wide …. [on] both sides, you can see everybody is within two steps of getting out of the aircraft and getting to a fast rope, and getting out on the ground to execute the mission,” says Ehinger.

Bell has flown the V-280 for more than 100 flight hours and has put 200 operational hours on the aircraft in total, including ground and taxing tests.



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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby kit » 16 Apr 2019 14:42

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190416_01/


One week after the accident, the SDF and US forces are still conducting an air and sea search.

The pilot remains missing, and most parts of the stealth fighter have yet to be found.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby kit » 16 Apr 2019 14:44

https://www.janes.com/article/87897/pentagon-confirms-deployment-of-new-passive-sensor


The Pentagon has confirmed the deployment of prototype passive sensor systems for long-range surveillance against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), and cruise missile (CM) threats.

looks like a widespread deployment across multiple theatres. probably for electronic "sniffing" out new threats

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Apr 2019 18:01

kit wrote:[url]looks like a widespread deployment across multiple theatres. probably for electronic "sniffing" out new threats


That can be one potential use. However, Electronic Warfare gear is usually deployed separately into a theater irrespective of the AD footprint committed to the region. The ALPS sensor is very much part of the Air Defense units there and will contribute to defeating of the threats mentioned in the article. As the article states this appears to be a passive system that comes with a weapons threat library and helps AD units better ID cruise missiles and UAS at longer ranges.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 17 Apr 2019 17:09

Lockheed Tests Game-Changing F-35-Like X-Ray Vision System On Bell's V-280 Valor


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Lockheed Martin has flown its new Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor, or PDAS, on Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft for the first time. This system uses multiple cameras to offer pilots a 360-degree view around their aircraft, similar to the Distributed Aperture System on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This is a game-changing capability that could improve their ability to avoid threats, navigate more safely, even at night and in other poor visibility conditions, and simply have better situational awareness overall during flight. The modular technology could have applications far beyond tilt-rotors and other rotorcraft, including fixed-wing aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles, and might find uses in the commercial sector, too.

On Apr. 15, 2019, the Maryland headquartered defense contractor revealed that it had conducted the PDAS tests on the prototype V-280 in a series of flights from its facilities in Fort Worth, Texas the month before. Lockheed Martin says it signed a deal with Bell in 2013 to test the system on their tilt-rotor and began working on it actively in 2014. The company has previously tested it on board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, as well.

“Conducting PDAS flight tests on the V-280 is an exciting first step toward delivering a level of situational awareness unavailable on today's Army rotorcraft,” Rita Flaherty, the Strategy and Business Development Vice President at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division, said in a press release. “With its embedded, multi-functional sensors, PDAS is the ideal foundation for an integrated survivability suite that will enable Army aircrews to own any environment and universally detect and defeat incoming threats.”

The PDAS configuration on the V-280 consists of six infrared cameras positioned around the aircraft. A central processing system “stitches together” these feeds and then pump them into helmet-mounted displays for the pilot and co-pilot, as well as fixed screens in the cockpit. The result is that pilots can “see” in any direction, including what would otherwise be blind spots, such as through the floor or straight to the rear of the aircraft.

This is similar in general principle to how the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS) works on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The DAS similarly gives pilots in these stealthy fighter jets a panoptic view in any direction.

Lockheed Martin’s PDAS presents a simpler, less deeply integrated option that is more applicable to helicopters and tilt-rotors, such as the V-280. The company started development of the system as something that could eventually work its way into the Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstration, which is supposed to lead into parts of the larger Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.



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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 18 Apr 2019 16:24

brar_w wrote:From the requirements document -


There are supplemental USMC requirements are probably even more favorable to the V-280 given that the Marines are looking at a cruise speed closer to 300 knots..



Just as I suspected. The SB>1 is going to need mods to meet the USMC cruise speed requirements which is in excess of 270 knots as a threshold and closer to 305 knots as an objective. The V-280 TD has already flown at 300 knots.

SB-1 Needs Modification For Speed Goal

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—The Sikorsky/Boeing team must modify the SB-1 Defiant to achieve the Marine Corps’ goal of 270 kt. for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) that will replace the Bell UH-1Y Venom fleet, industry officials say.

The government must trade how large of an aircraft it needs to balance power versus function, Kenneth Eland, future vertical lift program manager at Boeing, told reporters April 15 at the Quad-A Army aviation conference here. For example, for the SB-1 to achieve 270 kt., it will need a large engine and transmission.

The Marines could choose to shrink cabin space and carry fewer people to accommodate a larger engine, Randy Rotte, cargo helicopter and future vertical lift business development director at Boeing, said during the same April 15 briefing.

“It goes back to informing those good trades that the customer, the [Defense Department], will have to make to achieve what’s most important to them,” Rotte said.

Separately, the Defiant will fly its third flight next week when it will try to perform frequency sweeps and check the structural modes of the aircraft. The active vibration control will also be powered for the first time during the same flight, Bill Fell, experimental test pilot at Sikorsky, said during the same April 15 briefing.

The Defiant completed its first flight March 21 at West Palm Beach, Florida. The high-speed helicopter is built for the Army’s joint multirole technology demonstration, which is the precursor for the FLRAA to replace the UH-60. The first flight was delayed because of production challenges and a second delay occurred because of problems with the powertrain system testbed.

The Army, Marines and U.S. Special Operations Command are on track to complete an analysis of alternatives for the FLRAA later this year.


Meanwhile, having pretty much finished what they initially set out to achieve with the V-280 TD over its 100+ hours of test flights, Bell now wants to demo additional capability before they wrap up the program and submit their bid -

V-280 Valor May Fly Autonomously This Year

Bell anticipates its V-280 Valor will fly autonomously by the end of the calendar year and is in negotiations with the U.S. Army for more funding to continue envelope expansion, trades and sensitivity analysis, a company executive says.

The Army would like for Bell to conduct more operational maneuvers, such as going to an alternate landing zone at a high rate of speed, Keith Flail, vice president of advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell, told Aerospace DAILY here April 16 at the Quad-A Army aviation conference.
The Army issued a request for proposals to Bell for the potential work, and Flail said the conversation is ongoing.

Separately, Flail’s team is preparing for the V-280’s first autonomous flight. “We’ll have a safety pilot onboard but basically take off on its own, fly around, come back and land on its own,” he said.

The V-280 has surpassed 300 kt. of airspeed, 200 operational rotor-turn hours, both unrestrained and restrained, and 100 flight hours of envelope expansion to date, Flail said.
The Valor is one of two aircraft built for the Joint Multi Role program, which is the precursor to the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). The Army has released a request for information for the effort and gave vendors one week to respond.

“The team rallied, we put the response together—there was the Army piece, the Marine Corps piece, and the [U.S.] Special Operations Command piece,” Flail said. “Fortunately, over the last year we’ve been talking to all three of them about their needs and their unique requirements to make sure we understand what they’re looking for and how we would incorporate the unique requirements into the aircraft while still maximizing commonality between the different variants.”

Flail is confident his team can “absolutely” meet the Army’s $43 million cost target.
FLRAA is intended to replace the Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and the Marine Corps’ Bell UH-1Y Venom.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 19 Apr 2019 19:42


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 20 Apr 2019 08:54

Startup Commercializing Lockheed Nanocomposite

Developed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, a thermoplastic nanocomposite that rivals aluminum in performance, but at a lower weight, is to be commercialized by a new startup.

Alpine Advanced Materials has been formed by venture development company Catalyze Dallas, which previously created Metro Aerospace to commercialize a drag-reducing technology developed within Lockheed.

The new material, called HX5, has 90% of the strength of 6061 aluminum, but only 50% of its density. The material solves two of the biggest issues of 6061 aluminum, Alpine says: weight and the galvanic corrosion that occurs when aluminum is in contact with carbon-fiber composites.
More than $50 million was spent over eight years developing the material within Lockheed, the startup says, and HX5 has been approved for use on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the S-97 Raider rotorcraft developed by Lockheed-owned Sikorsky, and satellites.

The nano-reinforced thermoplastic material can replace aerospace-grade aluminum without loss of mechanical performance, Alpine says, and is resistant to solvents, fuels and lubricants, high temperatures and radiation in space as well as galvanic corrosion.

The material can be machined like aluminum without chipping, cracking, galling or gumming, and holes can be tapped and treaded as in metal. Parts produced so far include an electronics enclosure for the S-97, missile brackets and bulkheads and the structure for a gunner’s chair.
Alpine has been formed to design and manufacture high-performance components for aerospace and other industries using the new material. Target applications include clips and brackets, electronics enclosures and racks, seats and galleys, and hardware for avionics and inflight entertainment systems.

Catalyze Dallas’ earlier venture, Metro Aerospace, is marketing and producing Microvanes, aerodynamic devices developed within Lockheed to reduce the drag on the upswept aft fuselage of the C-130 airlifter. Metro has sold Microvanes to several C-130 operators and is offering a version for the Boeing C-17.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby souravB » 20 Apr 2019 10:01

^^ Brar sir, noob pooch. How is this HX5 material different than what DRDO is developing as structural (nano)composites to be used in fuselage structure? or is it just Khan style marketing?

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 20 Apr 2019 18:25

souravB wrote:^^ Brar sir, noob pooch. How is this HX5 material different than what DRDO is developing as structural (nano)composites to be used in fuselage structure? or is it just Khan style marketing?


That would depend upon their respective properties and what application they are approved or being sold for.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Lisa » 20 Apr 2019 19:31

NRao wrote:
kit wrote:https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/greece-eyes-f-35s-as-f-16-replacement-457481/

Greece operates the s300..so they are not worried about that ??


Greece has had the S-300 since the 90s. And, there are other topics, between the two, that are of interest too. Greece and Russia have been close for centuries. See if the following helps:

Why didn't NATO object to the Greek acquisition of the Russian S-300 missile system?

However, my feel is that the S-300 has been compromised. Here is another article that is very interesting.

The true threat of S-300s is not that they’re powerful, but that they’re Russian

In addition to supplying Syria with the S-300, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu also said Monday that Russia would “jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft attacking targets in Syria.”


So, just having the S-300 is not sufficient?


One need to read the above with this additional piece,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypriot_S-300_crisis

ie Greek S300's are actually Cypriot.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 21 Apr 2019 19:38

AARGM-ER is likely to act as a de-risking effort for the Next Gen. A2A missile as far as a new generation of Solid Rocket Motor's are concerned -

Northrop Grumman awarded AARGM-ER EMD contract ; Jane's Missiles & Rockets ; Robin Hughes, London

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has awarded Northrop Grumman a USD322.5 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) development programme.
A USD17.2 million preliminary design contract for AARGM-ER was awarded to Northrop Grumman in November 2017. This work was completed in February 2019.

The EMD effort – awarded o 7 March and scheduled for completion by December 2023 – includes the design, integration, and test of a new solid rocket motor for the AARGM-ER for use on the US Navy’s (USN’s) F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) and F-35C carrier variant platforms. AARGM-ER could potentially equip the US Air Force (USAF) F-35A, which has the same bay dimensions as the F-35C.

The AARGM-ER development is part of the evolution strategy of the in-service AGM-88E Block 1 AARGM, and it leverages existing subsystems and components from the in-service AARGM, including the sensors, electronics, and warhead.

Northrop Grumman’s AARGM-ER design introduces a new aft actuator control system – designed by Northrop Grumman Missile Systems – with the mid-body wings on the legacy AARGM removed. This not only enables a form fit capability internal to the F-35 but also improves manoeuvrability and reduces drag. The company has introduced side-body strakes that deliver lift during the missile’s flight. To assist the required range increment, the existing mid-body control section componentry is repackaged to deliver additional space for propulsion, while the airframe is tapered up from aft of the seeker section to deliver an approximate 10% increase in diameter, with consequent additional volume for propulsion. A new solid propellant rocket motor for the AARGM-ER will be designed and integrated by Northrop Grumman Missile Systems.

Northrop Grumman is also developing a new warhead solution for the new missile based on its Lethality Enhanced Ordnance (LEO) scalable fragmentation/penetration warhead technology. The LEO solution uses a thinned out shell casing supplemented with an inner fragmentation layer that can be scaled according to the required target set. “LEO is a fairly generic technology: PBXN-110 explosive fill and fragmentation layer; it’s how we array those fragments that determines the desired effects,” Pat Nolan, vice-president and general manager, Missile Products, Northrop Grumman, told Jane’s .

In a related development, the USAF plans to leverage AARGM-ER for its Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) requirement for its F-35A platforms. The SiAW system is intended to provide a strike capability to defeat rapidly relocatable targets that create the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment. According to the USAF, that target environment includes: “Theater Ballistic Missile Launchers, Land Attack and Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Launchers, GPS Jammers, Anti-Satellite Systems, and Integrated Air Defense Systems. Key attributes of the SiAW will include Lethality, Responsiveness, Survivability, Range, and Internal Carriage. The F-35 is the USAF threshold platform for SiAW.”

The USAF fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget estimates document, issued in March, notes, “The path to the SiAW capability is through the Navy Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) program with additions to the Universal Armament Interface (UAI), Warhead/Fuze, and Integration on the F-35.”

“In partnership with the AARGM-ER program, SiAW will enter the EMD phase of the acquisition cycle and focus on detailed design, test, integrations, and production activities of SiAW. The Department of Navy (DoN) will be the lead for development and the United States Air Force (USAF) will be the lead for F-35 Integration. The relationship between the DoN and USAF will be defined in three separate Memorandums of Agreement (MOA): Requirements MOA, Program Office MOA, and Service Acquisition Executive MOA,” the document added.

The current AGM-88E Block 1 AARGM has a stated range of 60+ n miles and an engagement speed of Mach 2+. Details of the expected range increment and engagement speed of the AARGM-ER have not been disclosed. ‘Increased Survivability’ is built into the Navy’s AARGM ER requirement, although the company has declined to comment on the specifics of its solution, noting only that “speed is in the equation. We’re going double the range in about the same amount of time, and you have to increase speed to achieve that; so speed in and of itself is an improvement to survivability. There are other aspects of our design solution that improve survivability, but these are not releasable.”

Northrop Grumman is also pursuing the development of a surface-launched stand-off derivative of the AGM-88E Block 1 variant AARGM to address, in the first instance, US Army long-range precision fire requirements.

The surface-launched AARGM (SLAARGM) concept provides for a spiral development of the AGM-88E Block 1 as a high technical readiness level stand-off supersonic, surface-to-surface strike weapon to engage land and maritime targets in complex A2/AD environments, through GPS/INS point-to-point or point-to-millimeter wave (MMW)-terminal guidance.

The company’s SLAARGM concept envisages utilisation of up to a nine-cell launcher developed by Northrop Grumman Marine Systems for application in both land- and maritime-based roles, with the SLAARGM effector supplied in a hermetically-sealed canister. This concept provides for an additional system element with a dedicated SLAARGM fire control system/C4I capability. While the SLAARGM derivative will be evolved from the baseline AGM-88E Block 1 AARGM, a company spokesperson told Jane’s that the potential future growth path for the surface-launched weapon includes leveraging the developmental AARGM-ER.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 27 Apr 2019 02:13

US Air Force provides X-60A hypersonic flight test details


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The US Air Force (USAF) plans to use the first two test flights of its X-60A GOLauncher1 (GO1) hypersonic flight research vehicle as capability demonstrations before using further test flights for experimentation, according to a key official.

Doug Dolvin, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) research leader for hypersonic flight research and experimentation, told Jane’s on 25 April that the first test flight will perform sustained Mach 5 speeds while the second test flight will exceed Mach 6. The capability demonstrations, he said, will be used to validate system engineering.

Dolvin said the first two flight tests will be performed at the Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida, and will fly south off the coast of Cape Canaveral. The USAF, he said, will have radar track and telemetry capture on the ground from the 45th Space Wing located at Cape Canaveral.
The USAF, Dolvin said, planned its first X-60A test flight for March 2020 and its second flight six months later. The goal, he said, is to deliver a much higher cadence level, perhaps four flights per year.

“This will enable us to be much more responsive,” Dolvin said during AFRL’s 2019 Lab Day at the Pentagon. “If one of the weapon system development programmes has an element they cannot address and falls through the gap, we can grab that technology and get to flight on the order of 4–6 months.”

The X-60A can fly to a test condition, throttle back and hold that test condition, and engage in a different test condition all in the same flight. Dolvin said these test capabilities include the altitude, the Mach number, and aerothermal conditions. He said the X-60A’s active control system also allows the air force to deliver different trajectories and conditions and induce different missions.

AFRL and Generation Orbit Launch Services (GOLS) are partnering on the X-60A, an air-dropped liquid rocket specifically designed for hypersonic flight research. The USAF announced in March that the programme completed its critical design review (CDR).
The X-60A is powered by the Ursa Major Technologies ‘Hadley’ single-stage liquid rocket engine, which utilises liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The X-60A is launched from a Gulfstream III carrier aircraft. Dolvin said the X-60A can carry 68–181 kg payloads.



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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 27 Apr 2019 07:25


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Pratyush » 27 Apr 2019 12:44

Any ideas as to why the EM cannon is not having a circular bore?

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 28 Apr 2019 07:39

Pratyush wrote:Any ideas as to why the EM cannon is not having a circular bore?


The sabot and (in this case, I believe) the armature, are rectangular in shape (scroll down to see a picture). Something to do with the Lorentz force (I have no clue what that is).

The projectile itself has a chape that we expect: conical.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 28 Apr 2019 08:04

F-35 AGCAS recommended for fielding


EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The 412th Test Wing recently published the technical report on the F-35 Automatic Ground and Collision Avoidance System and have recommended it for fielding; seven years ahead of schedule.

The Auto GCAS is a tool that utilizes a suite of sensors, on-board monitors and flight data to determine if a plane is on course for a probable ground collision. Based on the plane’s trajectory, speed, and lack of input from the pilot, the system then calculates the best way to recover to a safe trajectory.

“The 461st Flight Test Squadron is passionate about identifying, developing, and implementing technology that will benefit the warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton, 461st FLTS commander and F-35 Integrated Test Force director. “With respect to Auto GCAS, we knew how important this technology was for the warfighter and did everything in our power to accelerate it; protecting those that go into harm's way.”

The effort to test the system on the F-35A was headed by the Test Wing’s 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as part of the F-35 AGCAS Team. The whole team consisted of engineers and pilots from the Air Force, the F-35 Joint Program Office, NASA, Lockheed-Martin and the Defense Safety Oversight Council.


They've now done 2 "out of block schedule" integrations (GBU-49 and AGCAS) so this is probably going to be something that becomes more common in the coming years as new requirements pop up that can't wait to be taken up by the formal integration and development program and process which is very much a first come first served model.

Next step would be to get the AICAS fielded. Would be a little more challenging but it is a pre-requisite for the loyal-wingman effort to be successful so quite important.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 01 May 2019 04:45

This makes the USAF the third operator, behind the IDF/IAF, and USMC, to have used the F-35 in a combat mission.

U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Jets With Radar Reflectors And External AIM-9X Missiles Carry Out First Airstrikes In Iraq


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Rakesh » 01 May 2019 06:16

That is one beautiful shot brar. Wow!!

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 02 May 2019 04:14

6 Internal Aim-120 AMRAAM capability on the F-35A/C -

Lockheed Develops Rack to Make F-35A/C a Six-Shooter


The builder of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter has designed a new weapons rack to enable the aircraft to carry two more missiles internally.

The new rack, called Sidekick, enables each of the two weapons bays of the Air Force F-35A and Navy carrier-capable F-35C to carry three AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) instead of the current two, for a total of six internally carried AMRAAMs.

Speaking May 1 to reporters at a Lockheed Martin media briefing, a company F-35 test pilot, Tony ‘Brick’ Wilson, said the rack was developed entirely with company internal research and development funds.

The rack is not compatible with the vertical lift Marine Corps F-35B version, which has smaller weapons bay.

The F-35 can carry more AMRAAMs on external pylons, but Wilson pointed out that carrying two more internally preserves the stealth characteristics of the F-35.

“The extra missiles add a little weight but are not adding extra drag,” Wilson said.

Wilson also said the company is working on integrating hypersonic weapons capability on the F-35.

He also said the company, working with the Air Force Research Lab, has developed and installed on the F-35A — six years ahead of schedule — the Auto Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS).

The AGCAS has “saved eight pilots’ lives,” Wilson said. He said the AGCAS will be installed later on the F-35B and on the F-35C in 2021.



The F-35 was always designed for a future expansion of internal weapons carriage capacity and this had been shown in depictions of future capability for many years now.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 03 May 2019 07:53

U.S. Air Force Developing New Missile Interceptor - Aerospace Daily & Defense Report May 02, 2019

A new missile defense interceptor quietly entered development by the U.S. Air Force in fiscal 2019 under a four-year, $632 million prototyping program.

The Extended Range Weapon (ERWn), which was briefly described in written testimony submitted to Congress by the Air Force’s top acquisition official on May 2, will “defend against and defeat missile threats.”

Despite an eight-page program summary appearing in the Air Force’s justification books for research, development, test and evaluation activity, the existence of the ERWn mostly escaped notice when the Trump administration rolled out the fiscal 2020 budget request in March.
The only public reference to the new program came in a lengthy online analysis of the overall budget request posted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The author, CSIS Senior Fellow Tom Karako, noted that the recently published Missile Defense Review called for development of a boost phase missile interceptor to be carried by an unmanned aircraft system, but the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) budget request didn’t include funding for such a weapon.

“It could be advanced elsewhere” in the budget, Karako wrote, adding that the Air Force budget justification documents reveal the ERWn program and that the development is being carried out in collaboration with MDA.

“A boost phase interceptor like ERWn could potentially be put on either manned or unmanned platforms,” Karako wrote.
The Air Force’s budget justification books, released in March, suggest the prototype missile soon will enter construction. A risk-reduction phase is scheduled to complete in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, which ends on Dec. 31 of this year.

A three-year design, build and test phase is scheduled to begin around the same time, the budget documents show.
The relatively rapid pace of the program suggests that the technology for the interceptor is highly mature already.


The U.S. military has never fielded an air-launched, long-range, missile interceptor. But two companies—Lockheed Martin and Raytheon—proposed concepts in the last decade for air-launched boost-phase interceptors.

Lockheed proposed adapting the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile for launch by the F-15 for the boost phase intercept mission under MDA’s Air-Launched Hit-to-Kill program.

MDA also awarded a contract to Raytheon in 2007 under the same program to develop a similar interceptor. The Net-centric Airborne Defense Element was derived from the aerodynamic body, aircraft interface and flight control system of the AIM-120 missile, along with a new, second thruster.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby kit » 03 May 2019 22:08

F-35's Most Sinister Capability Are Towed Decoys That Unreel From Inside Its Stealthy Skin
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/2 ... althy-skin

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 04 May 2019 04:36

From last year, but I don't think this was posted here then..

Northrop Demos 100 Gbps Data Transmission Under DARPA’s 100G RF Backbone Program


Northrop Grumman and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have established a new wireless transmission standard through a demonstration of a two-way data link that transmitted data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second over a 20-kilometer range.

Northrop said Wednesday the demonstration conducted on Jan. 19 in Los Angeles marked the conclusion of the firm’s Phase 2 contract with DARPA over the 100G RF Backbone program and showed the data link’s capability to download a 50-Gigabyte video within four seconds.

“This dramatic improvement in data transmission performance could significantly increase the volume of airborne sensor data that can be gathered and reduce the time needed to exploit sensor data,” said Louis Christen, director of research and technology at Northrop.

The data link features Raytheon’s millimeter wave antennas and related radio frequency electronics and Silvus Technologies’ multiple-input-multiple-output signal processing and spatial multiplexing systems.

Northrop and DARPA commenced in June the air-to-ground flight test of the 100G RF Backbone program and will place the 100G hardware aboard the Scaled Composites-built Proteus demonstration aircraft to demonstrate its capability to transmit data at a speed of up of to 100 Gbps at a distance of 100 kilometers.


The program should be in Phase-3 now..

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 04 May 2019 04:40

Air Force Research Laboratory completes successful shoot down of air-launched missiles


White Sands Missile Range, N.M. – The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program successfully completed a major program milestone April 23, 2019 with the successful surrogate laser weapon system shoot down of multiple air launched missiles in flight.

The SHiELD program is developing a directed energy laser system on an aircraft pod that will serve to demonstrate self-defense of aircraft against surface-to-air (SAM) and air-to-air (AAM) missiles.

“This critical demonstration shows that our directed energy systems are on track to be a game changer for our warfighters,” said Dr. Kelly Hammett, director of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate.

During the series of tests at the High Energy Laser System Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, the Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS) (Figure 1), acting as a ground-based test surrogate for the SHiELD system, was able to engage and shoot down several air launched missiles in flight. The demonstration is an important step of the SHiELD system development, by validating laser effectiveness against the target missiles. The final SHiELD system, however, will be much smaller and lighter, as well as ruggedized for an airborne environment.

“The successful test is a big step ahead for directed energy systems and protection against adversarial threats,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, AFRL commander. “The ability to shoot down missiles with speed of light technology will enable air operation in denied environments. I am proud of the AFRL team advancing our Air Force’s directed energy capability.”

High Energy Laser technology has made significant gains in performance and maturity due to continued research and development by AFRL and others in the science and technology ecosystem. It is considered to be a game changing technology that will bring new capabilities to the warfighter.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 06 May 2019 08:03

Apache Engine upgrade : -


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Prem » 06 May 2019 09:39

https://www.engadget.com/2019/05/05/us- ... yptr=yahoo
US Air Force successfully shoots down multiple missiles with a laser

The US Air Force just edged closer to its goal of outfitting aircraft with laser weapons. Testers at the White Sands Missile Range have successfully shot down multiple air-launched missiles using the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD), proving that it can hold up under intense situations. While SHiELD is currently a ground-based behemoth (see below), the finished technology should be portable and rugged enough to be used aboard aircraft.You won't see the technology used in-air for a while. The USAF only gave Lockheed Martin a contract in 2017, and the first airborne tests aren't expected until sometime in 2021. It would likely take a while after that before the system could find its way into service.Provided the technology works as promised, though, it could have a dramatic effect on combat aircraft. The laser wouldn't be an offensive weapon, at least not at first. Rather, it would be used to shoot down missiles (both air-to-air and surface-to-air). As long as nothing interfered with the laser, an aircraft could be virtually impervious to missile attacks and effectively control the skies.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Prem » 06 May 2019 10:43


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 06 May 2019 18:33

Via SpF -

Navy determines SPY-6 radar three times stronger than original requirement

The Navy is confronting a welcome challenge -- what to do with a new radar that is three times better than expected. Government testers recently completed developmental evaluation of the SPY-6(V)1 radar and concluded the new, Raytheon-built sensor is nearly 100 times more sensitive than the legacy SPY-1 radar, built by Lockheed Martin.

This previously unreported determination has implications not only for the reach of the SPY-6(V)1 sensor slated for the Navy's new Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, but also for a new initiative to swap out for SPY-1 radar from the Flight IIA fleet with a scaled-down variant of the SPY-6(V)1 and a vision to potentially create a distributed radar network across the surface fleet for improved ballistic missile defense.

The Air and Missile Defense Radar program set a requirement for the SPY-6(V)1 sensor to be 30 times more sensitive than the SPY-1. The Navy has validated that the new sensor has a decibel measurement of “+20dB” compared to the legacy radar, according to a Raytheon document approved by the Navy for public release.

“SPY-6(V)1 is approximately 20dB more sensitive than SPY-1 -- nearly 100 times -- which translates to more than three times the original requirement,” said Scott Spence, director of naval radar systems, told Inside Defense. “SPY-6 also delivers a significant increase in range to the legacy radar.”

Spence declined to provide specifics on the increased range. [The baseline requirements from the USN were - twice the range against half the target RCS compared to SPY-1]

In January, the Air and Missile Defense Radar program executed the last of 15 developmental tests for the $5.8 billion program to develop and deliver a larger and more powerful sensor for the Navy's Flight III DDG-51 destroyers.

Curt von Braun, technical director of Raytheon's Seapower Capability Systems, said the company -- since being selected by the Navy in October 2013 to develop the SPY-6 -- has touted plans to deliver a new radar that would be 30 times more sensitive.

“The 30 was an original number, but [during] the test period out at Pacific Missile Range Facility, we've been realizing additional sensitivity through our design margins that have been now tested,” von Braun said, referring to the Defense Department test range in Hawaii. “So we're more at liberty to advertise the better performance than was designed in the margins and now those are being officially realized by the radar.”

The SPY-6(V)1, being built in a new manufacturing facility in Andover, MA, featuring state-of-the-art robotics and automation tools, is composed of 37 radar modular assemblies -- each a two-foot cube -- that can be scaled to fit a smaller or larger need.

The Navy is acquiring a variant with nine RMAs called the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar for its new large-deck amphibious assault ships, amphibious transport dock ships, the new frigates and aircraft carriers.

Raytheon officials, who believe the RMAs could be stacked by the scores or hundreds for homeland defense purposes, are hoping the Navy will adopt a 24-RMA configured sensor as part of a new radar upgrade -- potentially for the bulk of its DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyer class -- that would give the Flight IIA variant a radar that would be 30 times more sensitive than the SPY-1.

“The Navy wants to make sure those older ships can be in the modern fight,” said von Braun. “And the modern fight is more complex than it was in the day when the SPY-1 radar was built. And so the Navy is keenly interested in this backfit opportunity.”

The Navy has approved for public release a Raytheon document describing a 24-RMA version of a scaled-down SPY-6 for the proposed DDG-51 backfit as being “+15dB” compared to the SPY-1. von Braun said this means the scaled-down version would deliver the Navy a radar 30 times more sensitive than the SPY-1, effectively providing the capability the Navy originally desired from the SPY-6.

The 24 RMA-configured radar for the DDG-51 Flight IIA ships can deliver a capability “that is identical to the original requirement that we had for the SPY-6 on the forward fit,” said Spence. “So, we will perform to the requirement of the forward fit, but on the smaller version of the backfit.”

The Navy's FY-20 budget request seeks $55.3 million as part of a $381 million plan through FY-24 to scale the AMDR radar down to fit into the Flight IIA ships. The Navy has 46 Flight IIA destroyers, according to a Congressional Research Service report, including DDG-79 through DDG-124 plus DDG-127.

Were the Navy to swap out the SPY-1 of all Flight IIAs, such a project could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly billions.

The implied acquisition strategy in the budget suggests this backfit program is part of the AMDR program and provides no indication the Navy intends to compete the project, which would likely interest -- at the very least -- Lockheed Martin.

“Lockheed Martin is supporting the U.S. Navy customer in their radar roadmap, which includes both SPY-1 and SPY-6 evolution,” JoAnn Grbach, a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman, said.

The Navy's FY-20 budget request seeks funding “to scale AMDR to backfit active electronically-steered array and digital beam-forming technology on a [Flight] IIA DDG and to complete development and integrate Advanced Distributed Radar (ADR) capability into AMDR.”

The AMDR capability, according to the Navy, will enhance ballistic missile defense detection performance, “increase sensitivity at large scan angles, and insert the core algorithms to enable AMDR to operate in receive-only mode, in cooperation with other radars.”

The new capability will also improve anti-air warfare capabilities and provide advanced electronic protection techniques, according to the budget.

In FY-17, the Navy pivoted to procuring Flight III variants, which incorporate engineering and design changes -- including increased power and cooling -- to accommodate the larger SPY-6 radar. The Navy plans to buy 22 Flight III ships.

“SPY-6 will give the U.S. Navy the operational flexibility to perform missions in ways never before possible,” according to Spence. “Unlike the radar it will replace, SPY-6 is a digital active electronically scanned array radar. This fundamentally changes how it interacts with a combat management system,” he said, referring to the Lockheed-built Aegis combat weapon system which the SPY-1 works with.

SPY-6 is combat-system agnostic, he said, so it can pair with all Navy systems such as the Raytheon-built Ship Self-Defense System used on some aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships as well as combat systems used by allies.

The new AMDR radar, Spence said, “offloads many radar-specific functions that currently need to be performed by the Aegis combat system, allowing the combat management system to do its job without having to spend computing power managing radar assets.”

In addition, the SPY-6 provides increased coverage, allowing “early and accurate threat detection” so the Navy can take advantage of the full range
and speed of the newest interceptors paired with the Aegis system, including the Standard-Missile 3 and the SM-6, Spence added.


The original requirements for the baseline 37 Radar Module Assembly (RMA) SPY-6 was SPY-1 +15dB. What testing has revealed is that the baseline 37 RMA variant is SPY-1 + 20dB and the current best estimates for the scaled down back-fit (24-RMA) variant will be SPY-1+15dB or the same as what was originally demanded for the 37 RMA SPY-6 variant. One can only imagine what a 18 ft. diameter 69 RMA variant would have as that is probably the sort of radar size that will go into the next Large Surface Combatant that will essentially be a "cruiser"/Tico replacement.

Image
Image

The SM3 test against an ICBM is planned in the coming months. While that will no doubt rely on a string of offboard sensors like SBX and TPY-2's, that dependence on outside sensors will become a lot less once the SPY-6's come on board with the Flt. III's and the Flt IIs are back-fitted with its scaled variant.

Also, in case anyone was wondering, Curt von Braun quoted in the article is Wernher von Braun's nephew.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 06 May 2019 20:12

Steve Trimble
@TheDEWLine
28m28 minutes ago
More
Lockheed Martin unveils potential maritime follow-on version of DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept at #SAS2019 today. Externally mounted to F-35C.


https://twitter.com/TheDEWLine/status/1 ... 3135432705

Image

The HAWC is expected to enter Flight Testing this December.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 08 May 2019 03:25

DARPA preparing to test fly two hypersonic weapons


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is eyeing flight tests later this year for two hypersonic weapons, and it is teaming up with the US Army on developing such a ground-launched capability. However, at the same time, army leaders are drafting plans to consolidate duelling lines of effort within their hypersonic weapons’ portfolio.

During a 1 May Defense Writers’ Group breakfast with reporters, DARPA Director Dr Steven Walker fielded questions about ongoing projects inside the Pentagon’s research arm including the development of two hypersonic weapons with the US Air Force (USAF) – the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) and the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).

“[They are] two very different concepts but when you’re talking hypersonic [weapons], it is good to have what I consider intended redundancy because it’s a hard technology, making materials and propulsion systems that last in 3,000° Fahrenheit temperatures is not easy,” Walker said.
The military envisions developing TBG as an air-launched rocket with speeds faster than Mach 5 and able to reach altitudes of nearly 200,000 ft. The HAWC is also designed to be air launched but is envisioned as a hypersonic cruise missile.


By the end of 2019, DARPA plans to flight test both weapons off a B-52 bomber. However, if qualifying challenges occur, Walker said the tests could extend into the early 2020 time frame.

In addition to working with the USAF on TBG and HAWC, DARPA has partnered with the US Army on the Operational Fires (OpFires) development programme that is essentially a ground-launched capability with the TBG “front end”, Walker explained. As part of the effort, the agency and army have awarded three companies with Phase 1 base effort contracts, which include booster preliminary design and proof of concept testing to demonstrate key elements of the propulsion system.

“This new booster would allow a lot more controllability and mobility for the army, and an ability to really use the system and the most effective way versus any other existing booster that’s out there,” Walker explained.....


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 May 2019 18:53

As predicted earlier- Many of the of SH Block III upgrades are coming to the Growler -

Boeing to Retrofit Existing EA-18G Growler Fleet


Boeing is developing upgrades to the Navy’s existing EA-18G Growler fleet to quickly deliver a Block II electronic warfare aircraft with improved sensor capabilities and more efficient fuel tanks.


Boeing plans to have system functional requirements for the Growler Block II upgrades by the end of the year, Jennifer Tebo, Boeing’s director of development for the F-18 Super Hornet. Tebo spoke about the Growler upgrades Tuesday at the 2019 Sea-Air-Space expo.

“The thinking of Growler at this time is that it’s a retrofit program to deliver capability in the 2025-time frame,” Tebo told USNI News.

To deliver new capabilities to the Navy faster, the service opted to have its existing Growler fleet brought in for upgrades, which will incorporate new sensors and some of the Super Hornet Block III upgrades — like conformal fuel tanks.

The Growler is a variant of Boeing’s F-18F Super Hornet. The aircraft provides tactical jamming and electronic protection to the carrier air wing.

Boeing is installing the conformal fuel tanks behind the cockpit. The conformal tanks hold slightly less fuel than external tanks, however, in the case of the Super Hornets, the conformal tanks are lighter and make the jets more aerodynamic, resulting in an increased range of about 129 nautical miles, Boeing officials previously stated.

The Growler’s sensors upgrades will do some of the analysis work previously done by pilots, enabling the pilots to process data more efficiently, Tebo said.

“It’s about bringing in all this data and taking the workload off the pilots,” Tebo said of the Block II upgrades. “As they get data, data, data, what do they do with that? So we’re giving them decision aids and tools in the cockpit. The system will be dynamic and adaptive, able to process large amounts of data but also be easily upgradeable in the future as threats change. Over the life of the aircraft, Tebo said the Navy would be able to upgrade the sensors systems rapidly.

“We know the threats are evolving fast, so we need to keep pace, and that is a key point of Growler Block II,” Tebo said.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 May 2019 23:17

Next Generation IRST AFRL projects -

Image

Image

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 10 May 2019 04:15

DARPA Launches 2nd Effort To Automate Fighter Cockpit

The U.S. military has revealed a second major program in as many months aimed at experimenting with artificial intelligence in a fighter aircraft.

The Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program announced by DARPA on May 8 aims to create algorithms that would automate dogfighting maneuvers, while allowing the human onboard to continue managing the overall mission.

It follows the Skyborg program unveiled by the Air Force Research Laboratory in March, which aims to develop a prototype for a “fighter-like” aircraft controlled by artificial intelligence by fiscal 2023.

An initial solicitation under ACE will be issued by Afwerx, the Air Force’s innovation accelerator, in the near future for the “AlphaDogfight Trials,” which “pit AI dogfighting algorithms against each other in a tournament-style competition,” DARPA says in a news release.

Acknowledging that dogfights should be rare in the future, DARPA notes that the ultimate objective of ACE is to develop artificial intelligence that can be trusted to allow manned and unmanned aircraft to work together as a team in dogfights and other types of aerial combat.

As launched by DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office, ACE falls under the far-reaching Mosaic program. Three decades ago, DARPA’s Assault Breaker program established the battle management concept, with human operators on board aircraft such as the E-8C Joint Stars piecing together sensor data and directing attacks. The Mosaic program’s objective is to automate the interfaces between a far-flung network of sensors. And algorithms are used to recompose the network as individual pieces are compromised or destroyed.

DARPA has scheduled an event to brief potential ACE bidders on details of the program on May 17 in Arlington, Virginia.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 10 May 2019 06:53

First F-35A Aggressor unit standing up in the next couple of years -

Air Force to reactivate aggressor squadron for F-35 training

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 10 May 2019 09:54

Training AI to Win a Dogfight

Artificial intelligence has defeated chess grandmasters, Go champions, professional poker players, and, now, world-class human experts in the online strategy games Dota 2 and StarCraft II. No AI currently exists, however, that can outduel a human strapped into a fighter jet in a high-speed, high-G dogfight. As modern warfare evolves to incorporate more human-machine teaming, DARPA seeks to automate air-to-air combat, enabling reaction times at machine speeds and freeing pilots to concentrate on the larger air battle.

Turning aerial dogfighting over to AI is less about dogfighting, which should be rare in the future, and more about giving pilots the confidence that AI and automation can handle a high-end fight. As soon as new human fighter pilots learn to take-off, navigate, and land, they are taught aerial combat maneuvers. Contrary to popular belief, new fighter pilots learn to dogfight because it represents a crucible where pilot performance and trust can be refined. To accelerate the transformation of pilots from aircraft operators to mission battle commanders — who can entrust dynamic air combat tasks to unmanned, semi-autonomous airborne assets from the cockpit — the AI must first prove it can handle the basics.

To pursue this vision, DARPA created the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program. ACE aims to increase warfighter trust in autonomous combat technology by using human-machine collaborative dogfighting as its initial challenge scenario. DARPA will hold a Proposers Day for interested researchers on May 17, 2019, in Arlington, Virginia.

“Being able to trust autonomy is critical as we move toward a future of warfare involving manned platforms fighting alongside unmanned systems,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Javorsek (Ph.D.), ACE program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office (STO). “We envision a future in which AI handles the split-second maneuvering during within-visual-range dogfights, keeping pilots safer and more effective as they orchestrate large numbers of unmanned systems into a web of overwhelming combat effects.”

ACE is one of several STO programs designed to enable DARPA’s “mosaic warfare” vision. Mosaic warfare shifts warfighting concepts away from a primary emphasis on highly capable manned systems — with their high costs and lengthy development timelines — to a mix of manned and less-expensive unmanned systems that can be rapidly developed, fielded, and upgraded with the latest technology to address changing threats. Linking together manned aircraft with significantly cheaper unmanned systems creates a “mosaic” where the individual “pieces” can easily be recomposed to create different effects or quickly replaced if destroyed, resulting in a more resilient warfighting capability.

The ACE program will train AI in the rules of aerial dogfighting similar to how new fighter pilots are taught, starting with basic fighter maneuvers in simple, one-on-one scenarios. While highly nonlinear in behavior, dogfights have a clearly defined objective, measureable outcome, and the inherent physical limitations of aircraft dynamics, making them a good test case for advanced tactical automation. Like human pilot combat training, the AI performance expansion will be closely monitored by fighter instructor pilots in the autonomous aircraft, which will help co-evolve tactics with the technology. These subject matter experts will play a key role throughout the program.

“Only after human pilots are confident that the AI algorithms are trustworthy in handling bounded, transparent and predictable behaviors will the aerial engagement scenarios increase in difficulty and realism,” Javorsek said. “Following virtual testing, we plan to demonstrate the dogfighting algorithms on sub-scale aircraft leading ultimately to live, full-scale manned-unmanned team dogfighting with operationally representative aircraft.”

DARPA seeks a broad spectrum of potential proposers for each area of study, including small companies and academics with little previous experience with the Defense Department. To that end, before Phase 1 of the program begins, DARPA will sponsor a stand-alone, limited-scope effort focused on the first technical area: automating individual tactical behavior for one-on-one dogfights. Called the “AlphaDogfight Trials,” this initial solicitation will be issued by AFWERX, an Air Force innovation catalyst with the mission of finding novel solutions to Air Force challenges at startup speed. The AFWERX trials will pit AI dogfighting algorithms against each other in a tournament-style competition.

“Through the AFWERX trials, we intend to tap the top algorithm developers in the air combat simulation and gaming communities,” Javorsek said. “We want them to help lay the foundational AI elements for dogfights, on which we can build as the program progresses.”


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