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US Electronic Fingerprints in Syria?

Monday, May 5th, 2008

This article first appeared in Aviation Week’s Ares Weblog.

President Bush publicly acknowledged that Syria has been doing something suspicious involving nuclear development and North Korea. Following his lead, other officials are quietly dropping clues about how Syrias suspicious facility was attacked.

The Israel Air Force’s stunning, undetected flight through Syria’s air defenses late last year — as part of a raid on a suspected nuclear facility — bears electronic fingerprints similar to those left in Baghdad by the U.S. in 1991 and 2003, say U.S. military and IT industry specialists.

The raid on Syria was winked at by the U.S. which also supplied some non-participatory support, they say.


Coastie Cutter Deployment Delayed

Monday, April 14th, 2008

After four years of construction, the U.S. Coast Guard expects to accept its first National Security Cutter by early May, but testing and shakedown runs could delay full deployment for almost two years, according to a top Coast Guard official.

The cutter Bertholf is at sea, undergoing acceptance trials with a crew supplied by contractor Northrop Grumman and under the supervision of the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey, said Rear Adm. Gary Blore, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for acquisition.

“It’s been a long time coming but I’m glad we’re here,” Blore told reporters in a teleconference from Coast Guard headquarters, adding that the acquisition process, which he conceded has been criticized in the past, “has taken a little bit longer than I would have hoped.” That’s one reason the Navy was brought in as an outside inspector.

He said the Bertholf’s prospective captain, the Navy and a Coast Guard board will recommend whether or not to accept the 418-foot, 4,300-ton vessel, which is expected to cost $640.7 million. Instrument testing of the ship’s command, control, computers and communications systems are being conducted to ensure that commercial-off-the-shelf systems are properly shielded so that classified communications don’t emanate beyond the ship, posing security risks. Blore said he was “not optimistic” the C4ISR equipment would be certified for classified transmissions by May 1 “but we’ll know what the issues are” that must be addressed.


FCS (Nearly) on the Ropes…

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

…But is that necessarily a bad thing? I tend to think the FCS program might have been a bit over ambitious when it was launched and has now lost a bit of its relevance as the services shift to counterinsurgency and “phase zero” operations.

I sat through an Army justification last year of how the FCS was “tailor made” for the counterinsurgency fight, but it smacked me as a sales pitch similar to the “B” designation of an F/B-22 (hey, weren’t you telling telling us the F-22 was build to counter the 4th gen fighters of Russia, India and China?)…

But what has worked for the FCS — and the Army is loath to admit it — is that the program has acted like an accelerated S&T program. Some of the FCS components get a lot of money (and congressional support like the NLOS cannon from the Oklahoma delegation) and are sped up and fielded quicker…what the Army likes to call “spiraling.”


Naval UCAV Squadron by 2025

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008


The U.S. Navy is calling for competitive prototyping in preparation for fielding its first squadron of Unmanned Combat Air Systems (UCAS) by 2025.

NUCAS is expected to replace the Navy’s F/A-18s on aircraft carrier decks, and the system will provide greater range and time on station than the manned fleet. This shift will project Navy air power far beyond today’s reach, adding more protection to ships at sea.

This strategy puts the Navy at the forefront of the Pentagon’s efforts to field combat drones; the U.S. Air Force has decided to create a manned design for its next-generation bomber for fielding in 2018.


Big Bucks for UAVs in ’09

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

The new head of the Pentagon’s unmanned systems acquisition oversight office says there is more than $500 million for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the fiscal 2008 war supplemental, which Congress has yet to act on.

Dyke Weatherington, who was named Feb. 4 as deputy director for Unmanned Warfare in the Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), says the money for UAS is in the yet-to-be-appropriated balance of the Bush administration’s $189.3 billion FY ’08 request to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has appropriated $86.8 billion, or 46 percent, of the request, but the rest has been held up in a dispute with the White House over Iraq strategy.

The Defense Department has not specified how much it will seek for the FY ’09 supplemental, although it has listed a $70 billion placeholder amount in its budget request.


P-3 Groundings Mean ISR Shortage

Monday, March 3rd, 2008


BAE/Navistar JLTV Prototype Unveiled

Friday, February 29th, 2008


Be sure to check out first impressions from the annual Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium on the unveiling of BAE Systems/Navistar’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototype.


Better Battery Breakthrough?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007


Army logistics used to be “bullets, beans and bandages” but now adds a fourth B, for batteries. The Army estimates that unless something is done, soldiers will been to carry 20 pounds of batteries in their kit, and has launched a Wearable Power competition to solve the problem.

Now, Idaho-based startup Motion 2 Energy says that it has a solution to the problem: a generator/battery combo, scalable from vehicle-mounted power down to the micro– and nano– machine level, that generates power from movement or even vibration.

The technology is similar in principle to the Seiko Kinetic watch or the “shaker” flashlight. A magnet inside the power cell is free to move within a coil, and does so as the cell itself moves. But business development manager Regan Rowe says that advances in magnetic materials and design and control technology do two things: they generate power more efficiently and do so from smaller movements. Power gets produced even if the coil moves through one wire in the coil. The “boffin” behind the technology is Eric Yarger of the Idaho National Laboratory.

Overall, the system is three to seven times more efficient than earlier motion-based generating systems, and M2E believes that in normal movement, a hip-worn M2E battery will provide as much output as a conventional battery, but will not have to be replaced and recharged.

So far, prototypes have been treadmill-tested. M2E is building customized prototypes for military testing, early next year. Rowe says the company has not decided whether to enter the Wearable Power competition, because its goals are written around fuel-cell and similar systems. However, the company’s strategy is to aim at the high-cost, low-volume military market first — and then move into commercial markets.

Read the rest of this story from our friends at Aviation Week on Military​.com.

– Christian