US military, technology, arms, tactics

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Feb 2021 10:34

Mort Walker wrote:So NG took over the AARGM-ER, so I guess they won the contract when the original AGM-88 was developed by TI, then acquired by Hughes, then Raytheon.

Looks like USAF got over $160 million for Stand-In Attack Weapon (SiAW) development in 2021 and upto $364 million for production through 2025. I wonder what the cost of AARGM-ER is? The AGM-88E, which I think was made past 2010, was about $870K/unit.


AARGM (AGM-88E) was an Orbital ATK contract since it involved the US Navy providing the company with standard HARM missiles and the company upgrading them to the AARGM configuration. Orbital was doing the integration for it. All that became part of Northrop Grumman post O-ATK acquisition. The US Navy awarded them the contract for the follow on ER variant as well.

The US Air Force has not revealed any procurement quantities for SiAW. It is development funding to develop, integrate (F35A by 2025) and test the US Air Force specific upgrades over the baseline US Navy AARGM-ER variant. By the target set they generally describe in the budget and in testimony, it appears that they will require a fairly extensive test shot campaign (over and above the AARGM-ER test shot campaign which covers the same AARGM mission). But we probably won't know objective inventories and production rates (for the US Air Force specific variant) until a year or two once the development program is well underway. The US Navy is going to transition production (from AGM-88E/AARGM to the AARGM-ER variant) and plans to declare IOC on the Growler in 2023. USAF will probably fund test missiles in next year's budget (FY22) with operational lots probably being part of the FY23 or 24 budget for FY25-26 IOC on the F-35A. The Navy will likely field the AARGM-ER on the F-35C earlier.
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Mort Walker » 09 Feb 2021 10:50

So the ER variant will be for USN and USAF on the F-35A and C, or also on the B? I would guess then that USN has been funding development on the AARGM-ER and has an acquisition budget for it too. For NG it would make sense to see if these load up on the B-21 as well. With a larger warhead and range, it could be used by USAF on the rotary launcher (provided they fit) on the B-1B and B-52.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Feb 2021 10:57

The ER variant (AARGM-ER) is a US Navy specific weapon so it will go into the Growlers and then F-35C. The F-35B can't carry this weapon internally though it can externally. I doubt the USMC would want something like that for the F-35B's which are generally focusing on one or two missions at a time (mostly CAS and land attack). High value targets, and SEAD is a specialized mission which the F-35B units don't train that much for though this can obviously change. The USMC already operates, and is going to operate a few dozen F-35C's and this would be a good weapon for them. The Navy will be in no rush to get this to F-35B or even F-35C drivers. They will likely build up inventory for deployments and the VAQ units are themselves more than 150 Growlers strong so it will be a while before their needs are met and magazines are opened up for the F-35C's to begin training, and using them in combat.

The US Air Force isn't buying the AARGM-ER (as is) but using that weapon to create a USAF specific variant with changes in warhead, the way it is integrated into platforms (SiAW will be UAI compatible) and other advances which aren't fully specified. That, for now, is an F-35A specific weapon though investing in time and money to add UAI compatibility points to where the USAF wants to go with it. It is a more extensive target set than what the US Navy requires for the Growler so it will likely be a more diverse portfolio of employing aircraft than just those few units focusing on SEAD/DEAD (The USAF will eventually replace the F-16 CJ units with F-35A's but SiAW appears to be meant to be used more broadly compared to something that is just going to be within a few specialized SEAD units). B-21 is a no brainer as it will be required to penetrate enough to employ what the USAF is dubbing as a "Stand In Attack Weapon" which implies short-medium ranged high speed profiles (as opposed to a more traditional lofted ARM profile). Same for the 6th gen. fighter and UAV's etc. If it were just a stand-alone quick SEAD weapon for the F-35, I doubt the USAF would have wanted a dedicated 4-year developmental program over and above what the USN already invested on the AARGM-ER. They would have just bought a small-med sized inventory for the dedicated units that solely focus on SEAD training. That they are creating a variant specific for themselves likely points to a more broader use of the weapon across multiple penetrating platforms and gradually opening the aperture on what type of targets that can be added depending upon what trades they make with the warhead.

https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/r ... le-warhead

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Mort Walker » 09 Feb 2021 11:29

I don't know if UAI compatibility necessarily points to wider use of SiAW. UAI is probably defined by various MIL-STDs and may be contractually required by DoD contracts past a certain year as part of standardization for life cycle cost savings. Cost effectiveness on different platforms would probably be the bigger driver. The F-15, B-21, B-2, B-1B and B-52 makes sense.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Feb 2021 11:35

USAF is adding UAI to their weapon variant which is one of the changes it is paying extra for and that is adding to the schedule. The USN F-35 integration is outside of UAI. So there is definitely some reason the USAF thinks it needs to pay for this capability which pays off if you are buying the weapon to eventually integrate it to multiple platforms. Particularly those platforms which themselves are designed to be UAI compatible ( like all future platforms like B-21, NGAD etc)Given the US AF is calling it a “Stand-In” weapon, we can then begin to develop a sense of which platforms it would want to have this “stand in” capability for. The penetrating platforms like the B-21, like the F-35, like NGAD and its elements is a safe bet.

The stand off platforms like the B-1 and B-52 have dedicated high speed stand off weapons like the hypersonic AGM-183A and the HAWC-derivative. That’s a different weapons portfolio that the AF-GSC has invested a lot of money into. A B-52 needs a 1000km or longer ranged weapon for stand off high speed targeting to make sense. Same for the B-1. SiAW is more of a 200-225 km “HARM” profile weapon. As envisioned under the “stand-in” use case, it is likely a 100 km flatter profile weapon for the USAF. You are not going to get that stand off bombers that close to the type of targets they want to defeat.
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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Mort Walker » 09 Feb 2021 11:48

^^^I agree, but F-35C integration outside of UAI, in my guess, is probably being done for expediting AARGM-ER testing.
Going to UAI makes all sorts of sense, even USAF paying for it in terms time and money, which will result in life cycle savings and easier integration on to different platforms. Perhaps an FMS to the Indian Navy for deployment of AAGM-ERs on each wing of the P-8I. ;)

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Feb 2021 12:09


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 09 Feb 2021 12:57

Design Gets Underway on DARPA’s ‘LongShot’ Drone

Feb. 8, 2021 | By Rachel S. Cohen
Development of a new breed of unmanned aircraft is now underway, as three major defense companies earned contracts to start designing a future system known as “LongShot.”

The LongShot program wants to create an unmanned weapons porter that can be shot from another plane before firing multiple air-to-air missiles itself, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which runs the effort.

DARPA announced Feb. 8 it has funded General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman to start design work in the project’s first phase, but did not disclose how much money is part of those contracts.

“The objective is to develop a novel [unmanned air vehicle] that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft,” DARPA said in a release. “It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at standoff ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots.”

The project first appeared in DARPA’s fiscal 2021 budget request as a prospective addition to the Air Force and Navy’s inventories. The budget called for a plane that uses “multi-mode propulsion” to tackle multiple airborne threats at once, Air Force Magazine previously reported.

The program called for $22 million in its first year.

“LongShot will explore new engagement concepts for multi-modal, multi-kill systems that can engage more than one target,” DARPA wrote. “LongShot can be deployed either externally from existing fighters or internally from existing bombers.”

Last year, the research agency suggested the aircraft could fly slowly toward its target at first to save fuel, then speed up once it gets close.

“This approach provides several key benefits,” DARPA said. “First, the weapon system will have a much-increased range over their legacy counterparts for transit to an engagement zone. Second, launching air-to-air missiles closer to the adversary increases energy in terminal flight, reduces reaction time, and increases probability of kill.”

The Pentagon hasn’t said what weapons LongShot would carry, or how autonomous its software might be. On paper, LongShot appears similar to other efforts like the Air Force’s previous Gray Wolf missile program, which looked to create a munition that could carry other weapons inside. That was discontinued in favor of the service’s Golden Horde swarming bomb project.

Later in the LongShot program, DARPA said, the companies will fly a full-scale prototype that is “capable of controlled flight before, during, and after” it is fired. The agency did not immediately answer how long the initial design phase will last.

The fiscal 2021 budget also called for a new program entitled “Gunslinger,” a new air-launched missile armed with a gun that would be designed for Air Force and Navy missions. But that appears to have a murkier future than the LongShot.

“The Gunslinger program has yet to formally launch and, at this time, we have no information on when that may happen,” DARPA spokesman Jared Adams said in December.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Feb 2021 13:26

The notional missile DARPA has shown in the image is the "HALFRAAM" - CUDA (Lockheed) which is currently in ground testing for a ground vehicle launched application and is on contract for US Air force funded flight tests.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 10 Feb 2021 08:42

III MEF Marines @IIIMEF wrote:U.S. Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, @31stMeu parachuted onto one of Okinawa’s adjacent islands, Ie Shima. The MRF performed high-altitude jumps and dropped joint precision air drop systems in order to maintain readiness and lethality for future operations

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 10 Feb 2021 09:16

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 11 Feb 2021 20:34

30 years after the Pershing-II was retired, the US Army will begin fielding an intermediate ranged attack capability, though in this flavor it will be a BGV equipped strictly conventional capability. The first production grade BGV's are going to be going to the Navy and Army test launches but the first rounds for the IOC battery will be delivered early 2023 for a Mid 2023 IOC for the first unit.

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US Army begins equipping first unit with hypersonic capability


The U.S. Army expects to deliver — in a little more than 200 days from start to finish — the first hypersonic weapon capability to a unit, a service official said.

The Army has sent that unit the equipment it needs to prepare for a rigorous training program, according to Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director of the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.

While the Army has worked with industry to build the hypersonic weapon glide body industrial base, it has also separately produced launchers, trucks, trailers and the battle operation center needed to put together a ground-launched hypersonic weapon battery.

“By the end of this fiscal year, which is in September, all of the equipment that the unit needs plus training will be delivered to the unit,” Thurgood told Defense News in a Feb. 8 interview.

Lockheed Martin is the weapon system integrator for the Army’s hypersonic capability that will be launched from a mobile truck. Dynetics was chosen to build the hypersonic glide body for the missile. Thurgood declined to identify the unit chosen to accept the first hypersonic battery. He noted that the company, battalion and brigade commanders have all been selected.

The only element that won’t be delivered to the unit until fiscal 2023 is a live round. However, on March 8, Thurgood said he will personally deliver the first two training canisters for the unit to use for end-to-end kill chain training.

Once that unit has the necessary equipment, it will begin training in October to prepare for the first joint flight campaign test that’s scheduled with the Navy for the first quarter of FY22, Thurgood said. The unit will also prepare for subsequent tests in the fourth quarter of FY22 and the second quarter of FY23.

The unit will not participate in the hypersonic flight test scheduled for the third quarter of FY21.

Thurgood would not detail the upcoming test profiles because they are classified. However, the first test of the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body, or C-HGB, took place in March 2020 when a missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, and hit its target within 6 inches
, then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in October.

Hypersonic weapons are capable of flying faster than Mach 5 — beyond the speed of sound — and can maneuver between varying altitudes and azimuths, making it difficult to detect. The C-HGB is made up of the weapon’s warhead, guidance system, cabling and thermal protection shield.

The U.S. is in a race to field hypersonic weapon capability as well as develop systems to defend against hypersonic missiles as both China and Russia are actively developing and testing their respective hypersonic weapons.

Meanwhile, Dynetics is preparing to build the first hypersonic glide bodies at its facility in Huntsville, Alabama, after learning how to do so from the federally funded Sandia National Laboratories. These glide bodies will be the first ever produced within the U.S. industrial base.

“The transition is going well,” Thurgood said. Dynetics has spent almost 18 months at Sandia learning how to build the glide body and also taking a crack at building it by itself at the laboratory, with Sandia looking on and offering guidance where necessary. Sandia representatives will be at the Dynetics’ facility when the glide body building begins to continue looking over the shoulders of those performing the work.

“Transitioning production technology is not as easy as people might perceive it to be,” Thurgood said. “Production, especially high-end production, is part engineering and part art; and so the engineering piece you can learn through drawings and those kind of things, but the art of it is always the hardest part, so that’s why we chose an in-person, face-to-face, leader-follower [strategy] — that institutional knowledge that everybody has in every profession that’s never written down.”


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 12 Feb 2021 07:54

An 8-ship joint-coalition formation flies over Guam during exercise #CopeNorth 21, near @AndersenAFBGuam

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby ArjunPandit » 12 Feb 2021 18:52

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 12 Feb 2021 23:29


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 13 Feb 2021 07:54

Steve Trimble @TheDEWLine wrote:A CMV-22 has delivered an F135 engine to a CVN for the first time. I remember when people seriously questioned if this could be done, given the diameter of the F135.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 13 Feb 2021 09:54

The Carl Vinson is looking good ahead of its upcoming deployment - the first full length cruise with an operational F-35C squadron, the first with the most advanced AEGIS and NIFC-CA baseline and networking capability on the surface fleet, and E-2D, and quite likely the first with a number of new weapons. The Nimitz is currently out in the Pacific finishing up an 8+ month long forward deployment. Vinson will likely be in the region soon.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 13 Feb 2021 12:42

Fun facts from old era:


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 14 Feb 2021 06:25

Air Power @MIL_STD wrote:Nearly 8 years ago, the US Navy and Northrop Grumman X-47B team was awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy. The X-47B remains the only Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to have conducted Catapult assisted takeoffs, arrested landings and touch-and-goes aboard an aircraft-carrier

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 14 Feb 2021 09:14

Northrop Grumman teasing its Naval - Next Gen. Fighter concept for the US Navy's, FA-XX/NGAD program (From Spf).

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Northrop hasn't flown a clean sheet fighter design (though they are very much an integral part of the F-35 and F-18 programs) for about two-decades but they did a pretty good job the last time they tried ;)

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 14 Feb 2021 20:22

Some salt required, but does provide a few Digital Design concepts


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 15 Feb 2021 17:38

Ground-launched APKWS -


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 15 Feb 2021 18:51

Second dual carrier ops in the South China Sea in less than a year and during the COVID readiness challenges. There is also an F-35B equipped L-class ship in the region. Interestingly, the Nimitz was also involved in the last dual carrier op in the SCS back in July 2020. Nimitz left her home port in April of 2020 and gathered along with its strike group and airwing for a Composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) off of San Diego in May of last year. She left CONUS in June of 2020 and has been forward deployed ever since for a 8-9 month total cruise duration (that could still be extended). Not bad for a carrier that was commissioned nearly 46 years ago and only has about 4 years left before decommissioning.

U.S. Navy Sends Message With Dual-Carrier Ops in South China Sea


On Tuesday, two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers met up in the South China Sea to carry out joint exercises, sending an early message to other nearby powers on the Biden administration's stance on regional claims.

The carriers USS Nimitz, USS Theodore Roosevelt and their escorts conducted dual-carrier flight exercises at an undisclosed "highly trafficked area" in the South China Sea.

"Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9.

The last time the U.S. conducted dual carrier operations in the South China Sea was in July 2020, when the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups operated together twice in the region.

"Working cooperatively alongside Carrier Strike Group 9 improves our collective tactical skill while ensuring regional stability and security," said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of CSG 11. "We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea that all nations enjoy under international law."

USS Nimitz departed Bremerton in April 2020 and spent months standing by in the Middle East, serving as a deterrent during a period of elevated tensions with Iran. USS Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for the Indo-Pacific on December 23, marking her second deployment in a year's time.

China claims the majority of the South China Sea as its own, and it regularly objects to U.S. military exercises in the area. In a daily briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin registered his government's disapproval.

"The United States frequently sent vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to flex its muscles. This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region," Wenbin said. "China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly defend national sovereignty and security and work together with regional countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea."


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 17 Feb 2021 00:47

China targets rare earth export curbs to hobble US defence industry

China is exploring limiting the export of rare earth minerals that are crucial for the manufacture of American F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry, according to people involved in a government consultation.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month proposed draft controls on the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals in China, which controls about 80 per cent of global supply.

Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe, including defence contractors, would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute.

“The government wants to know if the US may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban,” said a Chinese government adviser who asked not to be identified. Industry executives added that Beijing wanted to better understand how quickly the US could secure alternative sources of rare earths and increase its own production capacity.

China’s own rare earth security isn’t guaranteed. It can disappear when the US-China relationship deteriorates or Myanmar’s generals decide to shut the border

David Zhang, Sublime China Information
Fighter jets such as the F-35, a Lockheed Martin aircraft, rely heavily on rare earths for critical components such as electrical power systems and magnets. A Congressional Research Service report said that each F-35 required 417kg of rare-earth materials

The Chinese move follows deteriorating Sino-US relations and an emerging technology war between the two countries. The Trump administration tried to make it harder for Chinese companies to import sensitive US technology, such as high-end semiconductors. The Biden administration has signalled that it would also restrict certain exports but would work more closely with allies.

Beijing’s control of rare earths threatens to become a new source of friction with Washington but some warn any aggressive moves by China could backfire by prompting rivals to develop their own production capacity.

In a November report, Zhang Rui, an analyst at Antaike, a government-backed consultancy in Beijing, said that US weapons makers could be among the first companies targeted by any export restriction.

China’s foreign ministry said last year it would sanction Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon for selling arms to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory.

The proposed guidelines would require rare earth producers to follow export control laws that regulate shipments of materials that “help safeguard state security”. China’s State Council and Central Military Commission will have the final say on whether the list should include rare earths.

Rare earth minerals are also central to the manufacture of products including smartphones, electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Some executives and officials are, however, questioning the wisdom of formally including rare earths in the export control regime. They argue that it would motivate Beijing’s rivals to accelerate their own production capacities and undermine China’s dominance of the industry.

“Export controls are a doubled-edged sword that should be applied very carefully,” said Zhang of Antaike.

The Pentagon has become increasingly concerned about the US reliance on China for rare earths that are used in everything from precision-guided missiles to drones.

Ellen Lord, the top defence official for acquisitions until last year, told Congress in October that the US needed to create stockpiles of certain rare earths and re-establish domestic processing. She said the US had a “real vulnerability” because China floods the market to destroy any competition any time nations are about to start mining or producing.

In recent months, the Pentagon has signed contracts with American and Australian miners to boost their onshore refining capacity and reduce their reliance on Chinese refiners.

The US National Security Council did not respond to a request for comment.

Video: Why China's control of rare earths matters
Chinese rare earth miners themselves are worried about the enhanced power the regulations would give MIIT to control their output.

China began setting rare earth production limits in 2007 to keep prices high and reduce pollution but the policy is not legally binding and many miners regularly exceed their output quota. The latest regulations would allow the government to impose steep fines for unapproved sales.

“The new rule is not going to make China stronger in the global supply chain when local mines can’t operate at full capacity and an export ban is easier said than done,” said an executive, who asked not to be identified, at Guangdong Rare Earth Group, one of the nation’s largest rare earth groups.

In a statement, MIIT said the new law would help “protect national interest and ensure the security of strategic resources”.

According to government statistics, China’s demand for rare earths is so high that it has consistently exceeded domestic supply over the past five years, prompting a surge of Chinese imports from miners in the US and Myanmar.

A wide range of industries are driving demand for the strategic resource, including China’s electric vehicle and wind power generation sectors.

“China’s economic planners have failed to predict the surge in rare earth consumption,” said an executive at Gold Dragon Rare Earth Co in south-eastern Fujian Province.

“China’s own rare earth security isn’t guaranteed,” said David Zhang, an analyst at Sublime China Information, a consultancy. “It can disappear when the US-China relationship deteriorates or Myanmar’s generals decide to shut the border.”

While China’s dominance in rare earth mining is under threat, it maintains a near monopoly in the refining process that turns ores into materials ready for manufacturers.

The country controls about four-fifths of global rare earth refining capacity. Ores mined in the US must be sent to China as the US has no refining capacity of its own yet.

Industry executives, however, said China’s strength in refining had more to do with its higher tolerance for pollution than any technological edge.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 17 Feb 2021 04:31

Air Force F-35 Stealth Fighters Are Now Operating From Guam’s Austere Airfield

For the first time, the U.S. Air Force has introduced fifth-generation F-35A stealth fighters to its concept of austere airfield operations in the Pacific. The exercise took place on the island of Guam where the Joint Strike Fighters were joined by F-16s in operating from an austere airstrip at the northwest end of the island. The exercise was a major component of a larger emerging initiative that looks to provide dispersed operating locations that can be accessed by Air Force combat aircraft during a crisis. The new strategy is largely a result of the growing threat posed by ballistic missile attacks in the Pacific theater.

At least four F-35As assigned to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, landed at Guam’s Northwest Field on February 16 as part of an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) exercise. The Eielson jets — which have deployed away from Alaska en-masse for the first time — are in the region to take part in the wider Cope North 21 maneuvers, which are taking place out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and also involve regional allies, including the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

After touching down at Northwest Field, the Lightning IIs participated in “hot pit” refueling, in which the jets were topped up at the austere base with their engines still running. As well as using R-11 fuel trucks, the F-35s were refueled by a C-130J transport aircraft assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

According to an Air Force press release, “ACE is the new warfighting concept that Pacific Air Forces is operationalizing to ensure agility, deterrence, and resiliency in a contested or degraded environment.”

Part of that planned resilience is finding alternative runway facilities in the Pacific region, bearing in mind that established bases could be wiped out by ballistic missiles — or by other means — during a conflict with China, for example.

In any war with the United States, Andersen Air Force Base would surely be among China’s highest-priority targets. Indeed, a People’s Liberation Army Air Force recruitment video last year even showed bombers launching a mock attack on this base.

As a result of Andersen’s vulnerability, the Air Force has been looking at alternative options, including forward bases at Wake Island and Tinian Island.

Last month, The War Zone reported that Northwest Field would be hosting both F-35s from Eielson Air Force Base and F-16s from Misawa Air Base, during the annual Cope North exercise. Previously, the airfield had been limited to infrequent operations by C-130s and helicopters.

The fact that Northwest Field has now been lengthened and equipped with an emergency arresting gear system is significant as if the fact it is now able to support the F-35, at least on a temporary basis. This aircraft, in particular, has highly specialist infrastructure and maintenance demands. For example, the jungle airstrip lacks even basic hangarage for the deployed aircraft, meaning any kind of maintenance work has to be carried out in the open air.

It is notable that the U.S. Marine Corps is also starting to embrace austere operations for both its short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs and its F-35C carrier-capable variants. In December last year, Marine F-35Cs demonstrated their expeditionary capabilities for the first time at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, in a series of maneuvers you can read all about here.

As for Northwest Field, this is not the only location in the region where we might see ACE tactics practiced. The concept has been tailored for the wider Pacific theater and is intended to make aircraft deployments more agile and less predictable, with small packages of aircraft flying from austere locations, and potentially moving on again quickly. All this is expected to boost survivability in case of hostilities with China, or another regional power. It also makes defending against U.S. and allied forces far more problematic.

Beyond the airfield now being used for austere operations exercises, the jungle-encircled Northwest Field is of considerable importance — THAAD missile batteries that defend against ballistic missile attacks on the island are based there, as well as major satellite communications nodes, among other important facilities.

It is very likely that Northwest Field will be used more regularly for austere operations drills like this and the fact the Air Force is now testing its latest fifth-generation fighters here is more evidence that the ACE concept will play an increasingly high-profile role in the Pacific theater in the future. Furthermore, going forward the remote airfield will offer a very useful alternative to the sprawling Andersen Air Force Base's runways during a major crisis.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 17 Feb 2021 22:38

US Army assesses AI-enabled sensor-to-shooter system

US army units assessed a new artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled sensor-to-shooter and battlefield situational awareness system by Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, as part of a key army field assessment of advanced combat technologies.

Officials from Rafael and its US subsidiary, Rafael Systems Global Sustainment (RSGS), demonstrated the Fire Weaver system during the service’s Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment 21 (AEWE 21), according to a company statement. Army leaders overseeing AEWE 21 provided programme officials an operational assessment team and a platoon of soldiers to support the demonstration of the Fire Weaver system.

Designed around an open, modular software suite, the Fire Weaver application merges “with existing battle management systems and other tactical computing devices… [supporting] ground combat capability with enhanced situational awareness”, in GPS-denied environments, company officials said in the statement. Aside from networking combat management platforms, the system integrates data collected from sensor systems deployed in an area of operation “providing a shared understanding on a fully digital common operational picture (COP)”, company officials added.

After the sensor and battlefield management data is compiled and merged into a COP, via Fire Weaver’s AI-enhanced software suite, that picture is then transmitted to end-user devices distributed among tactical commander, forward deployed units, and formations. Leveraging augmented reality technologies, the data is merged into a visual COP that identifies points of interest, including potential targets, civilian locations, friendly forces, and enemy positions via laser rangefinder-like end-user device, and in soldier’s weapon scopes equipped with the Fire Weaver application

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 17 Feb 2021 22:41


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 18 Feb 2021 00:31

A New Naval RF System part of the INTOP effort, elements of which are already being installed via the SEWIP Block 3 program:

Raytheon Missiles & Defense and US Naval Research Laboratory deliver world's most advanced digital radar


Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, has delivered the first-ever experimental Flexible Distributed Array Radar, or FlexDAR, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Built in partnership with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, FlexDAR combines digital beam forming, network coordination and precise time synchronization to perform multiple missions, such as surveillance, communications and electronic warfare, simultaneously with a single array.

“FlexDAR is a new apex in phased array radar system development,” said Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “It will improve military communications and deliver on our vision for a multi-mission radar. There really is nothing else like it on the planet.”

NRL developed FlexDAR's back-end subsystems, which were integrated with Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s front-end subsystems at the company’s Rhode Island facility. Further integration and testing occurred at the NRL’s Chesapeake Bay Detachment in Maryland, before delivering FlexDAR to ONR at their NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

“This was a highly successful collaboration between the Navy’s technology arm and a trusted industry partner,” said Dr. Bradley Binder, program officer at ONR. “The partnership between ONR, NRL and Raytheon Missiles & Defense on FlexDAR has resulted in the delivery of a digital testbed that will pioneer next-generation capabilities for surface-, sea- and air-based platforms.”

FlexDAR is being developed under ONR’s Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare Command and Control (EMC2) program to demonstrate the benefits of migrating digital technologies closer to a sensor’s front end. It comprises two experimental phased-array radars equipped with digital beam forming, communications and network-linked, distributed radar tracking.

FlexDAR’s aperture is capable of using a very large portion of its operating band at once, and it can expand to include future software upgrades.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 18 Feb 2021 00:32

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center @AFLCMCofficial wrote:A new aircraft just entered the @usairforce fleet! Congrats to our Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate’s Light Attack Aircraft Program Office, for leading efforts to acquire and field @TextronAviation ’s AT-6 Wolverine! (Photos By Brett Schauf)

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 18 Feb 2021 20:23

‘Clean Sheet’ F-16 Replacement In The Cards: CSAF Brown

"In the budget for FY 23, that's where I see that we'll really make some key decisions" about the tactical air fleet, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown says.


WASHINGTON: Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown is launching a study, in tandem with DoD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), on the service’s future mix of tactical aircraft.

“This will help inform the decisions that I think I need to make internal to the Air Force, and what I would recommend that force mix might be,” Brown told the Defense Writers Group late this afternoon. “Now, I will also tell you I don’t think that everybody’s going to exactly agree with what I say. But I want to actually have a starting point as a point of departure, a point of dialogue.”

The goal would be to finalize the study in time to reflect its conclusions in the Air Force’s 2023 budget request, he said. “In the budget for FY 23, that’s where I see that we’ll really make some key decisions.”

The study will include a “clean sheet design” for a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter to replace the F-16, Brown elaborated. Rather than simply buy new F-16s, he said, “I want to be able to build something new and different, that’s not the F 16 — that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and uses some of our digital approach.”

Brown explained that the idea would be to build on the lessons learned in digital engineering for the “e-series” T-7A Red Hawk trainer, and the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD). In particular, Brown said he would like to see any F-16 replacement sport “open-mission systems” that would allow near-real-time software updates to meet new threats.

The idea of the tactical aircraft (TacAir) study is “to look at what is the right force mix,” he said, explaining that the service needs fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35; it needs NGAD “to remain competitive against our adversaries;” and, it needs capabilities for the “low-end fight.”

Importantly, Brown stressed, the study will be based on “facts” and “not just opinions.” To ensure the service gets the right answers “requires some modeling and simulation and analysis, and that’s what I plan to do here over the coming months,” he said.

He added that it is also important that the study be done with the help of CAPE to bring in the perspective of the Office of Secretary of Defense before the service makes any decisions. “Naturally if I just do the Air Force study, it’s just an Air Force study,” he said.

386 Squadrons?

In addition, Brown said, OSD input will help ensure the TacAir study is able to inform Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s new global force posture study, and vice-versa, despite the fact that the two efforts are happening under different timelines.

“I think the dialogue back and forth between the two will help shape the Global Posture Review; at the same time, the Global Posture Review will help shape our TacAir study based on the priorities the department has laid out,” he said. “I don’t want to do my TacAir study in a vacuum. It would be naive of me to do that.”

Brown suggested that the study might drop the long-touted service goal of 386 squadrons, reflecting his remarks in October that it is the capabilities that 386 number represents that really count. This “modeling and simulation to look at what is the right force mix that gives me the most capability” is so important, he said. “I want to get as close as I can to 386 capability with the force size that I have, with the dollars we have available, and make that case.”

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 18 Feb 2021 21:00

The biggest mistake the OSD and CAPE made was not to compete the F-15EX. Had they done so a split F-15EX and F-16 V would have been chosen as the F-16V is a superior and more cost effective platform for roughly 2/3 of the ANG’s single mission focus (leaving about 1/3 of the units that are used differently). They should not make the same mistake with the Guards F-16s. Boeing should, for example, be allowed to offer a T-7 / F-7 variant that can meet some of the needs. The previous two CSAFs had masterfully kicked the “Light-Attack” plan down the road long enough for a potential F-7 to be a viable solution for some of that low end need. It will be cheaper and share common systems with the APT so getting pilots to transition to it will be a lot easier. And because roughly a 1,000 or more may be built it will be cost effective to buy and operate for a lot longer given that it’s a newer platform. If it can carry all the OMS radios, and tow a decoy it is good to go even if it can’t match the F-16s payload. These aren’t the tip of the spear units that train for multiple missions all year round. And this (T-7/F-7) is just one option. Perhaps Lockheed can rapidly create an F-16 variant that captures the NGAD's digital design, OMS and other approaches and is more tailored to the ANG instead of "just a more advanced block 50 Viper" which is what the F-16V is.
Last edited by brar_w on 19 Feb 2021 00:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 18 Feb 2021 21:35

^^^^^ Interesting. Will need to spend some time to dig into those angle. Thx

My take is different. CQ has been bitten by the Roper syndrome (which I support) - "Digital Design" (actually Digital Trinity). Thus the ePlane, e-Series, etc. The success of the T-7A and more recently the NGAD has convinced CQ that other options are not even worth considering (my opinion). A recent Boeing release on the F-15EX also trumpeted "Digital Design". I very much doubt OSD/CAPE are in this loop - in fact, IIRC there was a tussle (in 2019?) between Shanahan (acting SecDef) and Roper and then Roper and Congress. Looks like Roper won all those battles (got a PhD in ether String Theory or Quantum Mechanics)(aside: wonder if the Mongol crossed paths with Roper).

We have not reported much on Digital Design here. With a lull - only CQ to push it - not too sure where it is going. But, one thing for sure, CQ is very, very high on it. And, it IF it is implemented - I expect it to - then it will revolutionize the USAF for sure. All our current thinking on acquisition will be replaced.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 18 Feb 2021 22:54

From the TEDBF thread:

Manish_Sharma wrote:Eyes of the world are opening towards farce of 5th generation stealth scam.


Study what the US Air Force is saying carefully. They are still fielding an Air-Wing worth (60-80 aircraft per year) of F-35A's a year through the end of the program (in the 2030s), but what this study is going to focus on is primarily around what to do with the low end fleet i.e.

Do They:

Option 1/X- Upgrade older aircraft to newer baselines which gets you X (higher performance) but misses out on Y (like life-cycle-cost savings)
Option 2/X- Buy new old aircraft as was done on the F-15EX approach led by Secretary of Defense and CAPE (you get higher performance but it misses out on some of the things they are doing that can help them sustain aircraft better)
Option 3/X- Buy new types not yet in service like a T-7A derived light attack aircraft which is a long standing need of the US Air Force that has been getting deferred over the last 3-5 years (Textron literally self-funded a completely new aircraft to meet that need) etc. etc.


It is a fleet mix study. You need to replace the Active AF units. The Air National Guard needs to modernize, and same for the Air Force reserve squadrons. What does that modernization mix look like? Do you upgrade older aircraft, or retire them as planned and replace them with new old aircraft. How does this fit into the announced growth plans for the tactical fleet? Can you grow squadron strength using an acquisition approach developed before the need to grow was identified? These are the things he wants to study.

Not that "stealth is a scam" or anything as absurd as the claim being made.

Proof - F-22, NGAD, F-35, B-21, RQ-180 and probably other classified platforms either fielded, in development or planned. Expand the list to cover international efforts. Why do you think the AMCA and Ghatak exist?

What the USAF Chief is saying is that there is value in exploring competing the low-end fighter, unlike what they did when they decided to (or were asked to) simply stop the F-15C upgrade program, retire those aircraft, and transition the Air National Guard units to the F-15EX.

Similar decisions need to be taken by the ANG's F-16 fleet and the future of the US Air Force in general since they need about 100-120 new tails a year to both modernize and grow, and with the the F-35A and F-15EX mix they will only get to about 80-90 aircraft at best. Even if they don't aim to grow their fighter fleet, they still need about 100 new aircraft deliveries a year to make a sizable dent on the fleet-age i.e. retire 800-1000 older aircraft in the coming 10 years and replace them with new build aircraft.

There are a few Guard and reserve units that you want to have for the "high-end fight" or focused on missions that are absolutely critical (like intercepting enemy aircraft, and Cruise missile defense of the homeland). This will be reflected in their training, and mission focus. But besides those, the vast majority of them are generally single mission focused oriented. Whether that is sitting on alert and launching to intercept Russian bombers off of Alaska, or doing the homeland defense mission and overwatch mission. A bulk of them are generally just training for light ground attack with some Air to Air mixed in. They aren't training for high end SEAD, or trying to defeat very advanced threats. So how do you modernize these units? Do they need a spanking new highly capable multi-role fighter (like F-22, F-35, or even F-15EX)? Can they use these platform to its full capacity given how they train and how they are equipped and manned? If not, is a new build F-16 V the best solution or can even more "lower-end" / cheaper / easier to sustain options be considered? If you have to chose between the Textron Scorpion and the F-16V the latter is going to be preffered because it gets you more options. But if you throw a Boeing T-7 derived light attack aircraft in the mix then that decision wouldn't be that clear cut as it were if you were evaluating the options that you had a few years ago. In 2023 (study year) they will have options. If they decide to (say) upgade 150 less F-16's and retire them and replace them, they need not just buy new build F-16V's because it is the only such aircraft currently in production.

The NGAD approach of very rapidly creating new designs, or variants of existing designs, is an approach he wants to study not only for the high end aircraft (like a 6th gen. fighter, B-21 variants etc) but also to lower end needs (like what to replace Guard and Reserve units with). This is a good approach. You have invested a lot in validating your OMS and digital design tools and have built a spanking new 6th gen demonstrator in record time. No reason not to apply the same approach and validated tools on solving some of the lower-end problems.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 19 Feb 2021 02:52

NRao wrote:My take is different. CQ has been bitten by the Roper syndrome (which I support) - "Digital Design" (actually Digital Trinity). Thus the ePlane, e-Series, etc. The success of the T-7A and more recently the NGAD has convinced CQ that other options are not even worth considering (my opinion).


There was likely very little in the "NGAD" demonstration that was the brainchild of Roper. It was born out of a joint DARPA and US-Air Force (with the Navy being a technology partner) effort that was begun in 2015 and led by a man who has his fingerprints on practically every classified and unclassified high-end advanced technology demonstration program (air-vehicles) that the USAF has touched in the last 15 or so years. Roper was more of a salesman for the approach as opposed to its architect though he did bring some fresh impetus to the effort because he happened to be at the right place at the right time when certain legal changes were established allowing them to more efficiently embark on these projects. So great that he was there to move things along but that's about all he was able to do. These wheels were in motion years earlier and some of these technologies were constantly being used on existing and upcoming programs (Lockheed used the digital thread on the F-35, Northrop used digital engineering on the ICBM replacement etc etc).

The current CSAF is doing what is logical. Instead of having a decision forced upon it by an outside organization (OSD+CAPE for example) like had happened on the F-15 EX decision, he is being proactive and working with CAPE to get to a decision point on the F-16 recap. The F-35 was 5+ years late to reach rate production leaving hundreds of F-16's outside of the modernization and recap. window on account of their age (the USAF can't buy 100+ F-35A's a year to catch up). This problem of what to do with those F-16's isn't new, it's been circling pre-AFA-AWS discussions (interesting timing no?) for a number of years and continues to persist because they've kept deferring it in favor of other priorities. But since they need to get going in a couple of years, it has now fallen on the current CSAFs plate. In fact, the CSAF's approach is also not atypical. His predecessor's predecessor proactively involved CAPE from day-1 when analyzing the LRS-B and a few other big ticket space programs. Using one independent of the ACC (or any PO), and one independent of the service, assessment and evaluation is a good practice that the USAF has very successfully used in the past. You get one semi-independent and one fully independent assessment and you budget for the higher of the two numbers so as to avoid any nasty surprises. Interestingly, on the B-21 program their own independent assessment (AF independent analysis shop) calculated the cost to be higher than what CAPE assessed so they budgeted to the higher number just to be conservative.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 19 Feb 2021 13:24

^^^^^ Will respond

Meanwhile,

First of 17 B-1Bs Heads to the Boneyard

The first of 17 B-1B bombers to be retired this fiscal year under a Congressionally-approved divestiture plan flew to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on Feb. 17, Air Force Global Strike Command said.

The aircraft was based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., but the Air Force did not provide specifics on which aircraft retired.

“This action will not affect the service’s lethality or any associated maintenance manpower,” AFGSC said in a press release. It will allow a focus of maintenance and “depot-level manpower on the remaining aircraft, increasing readiness and paving the way for the bomber fleet modernization.”

Not all 17 Lancers will go to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also known as the boneyard, once they retire. One will go to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for testing, although AFGSC did not say if the jet will conduct air or static ground tests. Another will go to the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Air Force Global Strike Command may send a third to Wichita State University, Kansas, for research, and a fourth may become a “gate guard” or a static display at an unidentified location.

Four of the 17 bombers will be kept in “recallable storage,” AFGSC said, which means the aircraft will get a Spraylat treatment to keep out moisture and animals, and the engines will be cocooned to preserve the “functional and material integrity” of the airplanes. AFGSC could not say how long they are required to keep the aircraft in this status. The remaining B-1s going to the boneyard will be eligible for parts cannibalization.

After the drawdown, 45 airplanes will be left in the operational B-1 fleet, about evenly divided between Ellsworth and Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. All congressional delegations and committees affected by the drawdown have been notified, a AFGSC spokesman said.

The B-1B retirements will make way for the new B-21 stealth bomber, and are “something we have been working toward for some time,” AFGSC Commander Gen. Timothy M. Ray said in a press release. USAF “accelerated” the retirements because excessive wear and tear on the aircraft during the last two decades “would cost tens of millions of dollars per aircraft” to fix, “and that’s just the problems we know about,” Ray said.

An AFGSC spokesman said the actual estimate is, “$10 million to $30 million per aircraft to get back to a status quo fleet in the short term until the B-21 comes online.”

The Air Force is conducting a long-term structural fatigue test on a B-1 carcass and wing at Boeing’s facilities near Seattle, Wash. The tests will help engineers anticipate structural problems on the remaining fleet that will need to be addressed.

Retiring the B-1s with “the least amount of usable life allows us to prioritize the health of the fleet and crew training,” Ray asserted. “Our ability to balance these priorities will make us more capable and lethal overall.”

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 19 Feb 2021 22:23

The first two B-21's are under construction and the USAF has sealed FP contracted options for 21 total aircraft under the original contract award to Northrop. They should get 17-18 operational aircraft out of those 21 and the first 5 lots (21 aircraft) should all deliver to their respective bases by the end of the decade. So its a transition phase but one that was much needed. A smaller B-1 fleet comprising of "healthier" airframes is going to be easier to keep ready and you may actually end up with more deployable aircraft on average which is really what counts under the new dynamic deployment model that these bombers are using. I didn't think the Congress would have sanctioned these retirements but it points to some good news on the B-21 development side of things (which are completely classified) because if that program wasn't going as planned Congress would have been unlikely to sanction such a dramatic fleet reduction until those challenges were sorted out.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 20 Feb 2021 01:19

First overseas F-35A unit (2 permanently based squadrons ) to begin bedding down by end of the year. This would constitute the third major hub for USAF F-35A operational units, with Utah and Alaska being the first two main units in the US (excluding Air National Guard units based out of Vermont and another unit being stood up concurrent to the Alaska --> Lakenheath transition and excluding the training, testing, tactics/WS units based elsewhere).

US Air Force names first overseas-based F-35A squadron


The 48th Fighter Wing has selected a new nickname for the first U.S. Air Force overseas-based F-35A Lightning II squadron. The wing solicited help from the public to name the unit. Suggestions were originally submitted in the fall of 2020, and were narrowed down from 700 unique names to five finalists. In December, the 48th FW received thousands of votes from opinion polls, and the wing is excited to announce that the 495th FS will be called the “Valkyries,” besting four other choices – Archangels, Sabres, Sentinels and Swordsmen.

The first F-35As are scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath in late 2021. The base was selected to host the first U.S. F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the RAF, existing infrastructure and combined training opportunities. The UK is a critical component in training and combat readiness for Air Forces in Europe due to its excellent airspace and F-35 program partnership.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Vayutuvan » 20 Feb 2021 05:48

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/releases/2020/3d-printed-rocket-engine-parts-survive-23-hot-fire-tests.html
3D Printed Rocket Engine Parts Survive 23 Hot-Fire Tests
Dec 8, 2020

Future lunar landers might come equipped with 3D printed rocket engine parts that help bring down overall manufacturing costs and reduce production time. NASA is investing in advanced manufacturing – one of five industries of the future – to make it possible.

Through a series of hot-fire tests in November, NASA demonstrated that two additively manufactured engine components – a copper alloy combustion chamber and nozzle made of a high-strength hydrogen resistant alloy – could withstand the same extreme combustion environments that traditionally manufactured metal structures experience in flight.

“This 3D printed technology is a game-changer when it comes to reducing total hardware manufacturing time and cost,” said Tom Teasley, a test engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “These hot-fire tests are a critical step in preparing this hardware for use in future Moon and Mars missions.”

Teasley worked with a team of Marshall test engineers to put the 3D printed parts through their paces. They performed 23 hot-fire tests for a total duration of 280 seconds over 10 test days. Throughout the testing, engineers collected data, including pressure and temperature measurements in hardware coolant channels and the main chamber, and high-speed and high-resolution video of the exhaust plume and chamber throat. The team also calculated the chamber's performance and how efficiently the engine used propellant overall.

The high-strength iron-nickel superalloy nozzle was printed using a method called laser powder directed energy deposition, which deposits and melts the metal powder locally to create freeform structures. This method allows engineers to manufacture small and large-scale components, as demonstrated in NASA’s RAMPT project.

The tests were a part of NASA’s Long-Life Additive Manufacturing Assembly (LLAMA) project, which aims to enable these 3D printed parts – along with other additively manufactured hardware – for use on future lunar landers. The team will perform additional hot-fire tests to further demonstrate and validate the durability of the engine components. Marshall leads the LLAMA project for NASA's Game Changing Development program, part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
...

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Vayutuvan » 20 Feb 2021 05:50

A nice video of Laser powder DED is at YouTube.


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