Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits

Ingenuity and collaboration were the keys to success as a group of Air Force Research Laboratory engineers took a series of tests to new heights.

At the request of NASA, AFRL rapid-response systems support researchers delved into the realm of space to help determine the effects of unintended electrical arcing on astronaut space suits during extravehicular maintenance.

NASA researchers came to the AFRL team with a simple question. How does an electrical arc behave in a vacuum? Although this may seem like a fairly simple question, it was a concept that had not been explored fully before.


“What was not understood were the ramifications of an arc in space,” said Brett Jordan, electrical and electronic materials evaluation team lead. “What are the mass and velocity of the particles produced by the arcing, and what would be the effects of those metal particles flying off the arc in that environment?”

To answer this question, AFRL began by determining how to build fixtures for a low-pressure test and performing proof-of-concept testing to determine the best method to reliably create an arc in the planned lab setting. This initial series of tests helped the researchers understand the materials, positioning and current needed to successfully generate the arc, as well as the proper test setup to use for an Earth-orbit vacuum environment.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits

The Air Force Research Laboratory materials evaluation team generates an electrical arc fault in a vacuum chamber in support of a NASA research effort to determine the effects of arcing in Earth-orbit conditions.

With this initial data in hand, the team then began to prepare for low-pressure testing. Reaching out to fellow AFRL materials and electronics researchers, the team acquired a low-pressure chamber and secured a laboratory for conducting the tests.

“It really was a team effort,” said Corey Boltz, electrical engineer and project lead. “We received assistance from many different teams throughout AFRL to make this happen.”

After another round of experimental tests and setup, the team was ready to begin the final round of testing and data collection. With the assistance of NASA engineers, the AFRL team performed a series of 35 tests in the low-pressure chamber. Each test run was a careful exercise in control and precision. For each individual test, the team followed a rigorous process that involved precise placement of the test fixture, calibration of multiple high-speed data capture cameras and pumping the chamber down to extreme low-pressure atmospheric conditions.

The team completed the tests quickly, despite the complex setup required between each test run. From start to finish, the low-pressure test runs were completed in nine days. Jordan says this was possible because the AFRL test chamber offered capabilities that were not immediately available to the NASA team. Because of the chamber’s design, its pressure could be lowered to the necessary test conditions in about half the time it takes a typical chamber to achieve the same conditions. As a result, more test runs could be completed in a shorter period of time.

“For us, it was all part of our rapid-response mission, and the customer appreciated that quick turnaround,” Boltz said.

The data gathered from the testing provided important data that NASA is using to structure their own set of tests.

“This data-rich testing enabled the optimization of tests being performed at three other facilities, which are adding various other factors related to the extra vehicular activity scenario,” said Amri Hernandez-Pellerano, NASA technical lead. “The AFRL pathfinder tests enabled us to properly plan resources in this study.”

Jordan added that since these tests were the first space vacuum work the group had performed, the testing event benefited AFRL as well by expanding the base of knowledge for electrical arcing in low-pressure environments. He said the data and processes established will be useful for the project researchers and other AFRL teams as they tackle future endeavors.

“As the systems support rapid reaction team, that’s what we do,” said Jordan. “We’re proud of our mission. We take it seriously, we enjoy it, and when we need to come up with good answers quickly, we make it happen quickly.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump wants ‘Space Force’ to be its own military branch

While speaking to US Marines in San Diego on March 13, 2018, President Donald Trump suggested creating a branch of the military for space.


“My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain just like the land, air and sea,” Trump said at Miramar Air Station. “We may even have a Space Force.”

“You know, I was saying it the other day cause we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space,” Trump said. “I said ‘maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the space force.’ And I was not really serious, and then I said ‘what a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.'”

“That could happen, that could be the big breaking story,” Trump said. “Look at all those people back there,” Trump said, pointing to the media in the background. “Look at them… Ohhhh, that fake news.”

Related: Trump’s strategy to prepare the US for power war with Russia and China

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
(Photo by garysan97/Flickr)

While Trump appears to have wandered into the issue in his speech, the idea is not new.

The Congressional Strategic Forces Subcommittee even proposed creating such a branch in July 2017, which they called Space Corps. But the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that passed in November 2017 actually banned it.

Also read: This is President Trump’s military wishlist for 2019

The proposed Space Corps would have fallen under the Air Force branch.

Republican Mike Rogers, the chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, however, said in February 2018 that he expects such a force to be built in three to five years, according to Defense News.

Supporters of the Space Corps have argued that it’s needed to counter Russia and China’s desire to build anti-satellite weaponry.

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Whiteman pilot logs 6000 A-10 hours

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
Then, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks in an A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1991 next to, now, Lt. Col. Marks in the cockpit of an A-10 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 14, 2016. Marks reached 6,000 hours in an A-10 after flying for nearly three decades. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks


Lt. Col. John Marks, a pilot with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, logged his 6,000th hour in the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Nov. 14, 2016.

Nearly three decades of flying and 11 combat deployments later, Marks has achieved a milestone that equates to 250 days in the cockpit, which most fighter pilots will never reach and puts him among the highest time fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force.

Also read: The Air Force will keep the A-10 in production ‘indefinitely’

Ever since the end of the Cold War Era when Marks began his Air Force career, the mission in the A-10 has remained the same— protect the ground forces.

“Six thousand hours is about 3,500 sorties with a takeoff and landing, often in lousy weather and inhospitable terrain,” said Col. Jim Macaulay, the 442d Operations Group commander. “It’s solving the tactical problem on the ground hundreds of times and getting it right every time, keeping the friendlies safe. This includes being targeted and engaged hundreds of times by enemy fire.”

He also said it’s a testament to Marks’ skill that he’s never had to eject, and they both praise and respect the 442d Maintenance Squadron for keeping the planes mission ready.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks poses with an A-10 Thunderbolt II at King Fahd Air Base, Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm in February, 1991. Destroying and damaging more than 30 Iraqi tanks was one of Marks most memorable combat missions during Desert Storm. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks

Marks’ early sorties were low-altitude missions above a European battlefield, so different tactics have been used in more recent sorties that have focused on high-altitude missions above a middle-eastern battlefield.

“In the end, we can cover the ground forces with everything from a very low-altitude strafe pass only meters away from their position, to a long-range precision weapon delivered from outside threat ranges, and everything in between,” said Marks.

Most combat sorties leave lasting impressions because the adrenaline rush makes it unforgettable, said Marks.

“The trio of missions I flew on February 25, 1991, with Eric Salomonson on which we destroyed or damaged 23 Iraqi tanks with oil fires raging all over Kuwait certainly stands out,” he expressed. “The sky was black from oil fires and smoke and burning targets, lending to an almost apocalyptic feel.”

“Recently, a mission I flew on our most recent trip to Afghanistan, relieving a ground force pinned down by Taliban on 3 sides and in danger of being surrounded, using our own weapons while also coordinating strikes by an AC-130 gunship, 2 flights of F-16s, Apaches, and AH-6 Little Birds, stands out as a mission I’m proud of,” continued Marks about one of the most rewarding missions of his career, which earned him the President’s Award for the Air Force Reserve Command in 2015.

Having more than 950 combat hours like Marks does is valuable for pilots in training because experience adds credibility, said Macaulay.

“I’ve watched him mentor young pilots in the briefing room then teach them in the air,” said Macaulay. “Every sortie, he brings it strong, which infects our young pilots that seek to emulate him.”

As an instructor pilot, Marks said he uses his firsthand experience to help describe situations that pilots learn during their book studies, such as, what it’s really like to withstand enemy fire.

“I like to think we can show them a good work ethic as well,” Marks added. “You always have to be up on the newest weapons, the newest threats, the newest systems. You can never sit still.”

Marks plans on flying the A-10 until he is no longer capable, which gives him a few more years in the cockpit and the potential to reach 7,000 hours.

“I love being part of something that’s bigger than any individual and doing something as a career that truly makes a difference – whatever you do in the Air Force, you’re part of that effort,” said Marks. “It’s going to be up to you to carry on the great tradition we have in our relatively short history as an Air Force.”

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Navy officer Edward King just took 10th place in Rio Olympic rowing finals

Navy officer Edward King and the rest of America’s Lightweight Men’s Four Rowing Team came in 10th in the Rio Olympics on Aug. 11.


King is a native of South Africa and a 2011 graduate of the Naval Academy. The school introduced him to rowing during his freshman year.

He had previously competed in cross country, tennis, basketball, and track. After academy graduation, he attended and graduated the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course. He attended a few months of advanced training but was reassigned to the Navy’s information dominance community.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
Navy officer Edward King, right, speaks to reporters with his pairs partner on the U.S. Rowing Team, Robin Prendes. Prendes also competed on the Lightweight Men’s Four Team for Team USA. (Image: YouTube/US Rowing)

King was granted an extended leave of absence to concentrate on rowing and prepare for the Olympics in 2015.

The rowing team came in 10th in the world with a final time of 6:36.93, approximately 16 seconds behind the gold medal winners from Switzerland.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
A U.S. Naval Academy rowing team stays ahead of Harvard and Penn State during a 2014 competition. Olympian Edward King competed on the team until his 2011 graduation from the academy. (Image: YouTube/CommunityOrganizer1)

The Lightweight Men’s Four was King’s only Olympic event, but Marine Corps 2nd Lt. David Higgins, Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, and Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Sanderson will compete in shooting events Aug. 12, while Naval Academy Cadet Regine Tugade will race in the 100-meter dash.

On Aug. 13, Air Force 1st Lt. Cale Simmons and Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks will compete in the pole vault. Army specialists Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir will compete against one another in the 10,000-meter race.

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The war-tested C-130 is getting a massive upgrade

The Air Force is progressing with a massive technological overhaul of its warzone-tested C-130 aircraft, giving the platform new radios, digital avionics, collision avoidance technology and reinforced “wing-boxes,” service officials said.


The Air Force remains vigilant about its C-130 fleet to ensure the airframes, wingboxes, avionics and communication systems remain safe and operational well into the 2030s and beyond. This is particularly true of the older 1980s-era C-130Hs, Air Force developers explained.

Also read: AC-130 gunships could be outfitted with laser cannons

“The thing that causes the greatest risk to the airplane is the life of the wing. We monitor the wing of the aircraft and as the wings get past their service, life we bring the airplanes back in and bring in new structures — with the primary focus being the center wingbox which is the area where the wings mount to the fuselage,”Col. Robert Toth, Chief of Tactical Aircraft, Special Operations and Combat Search and Rescue Division, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
A C-130J Hercules aircraft from the 115th Airlift Squadron. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

As for when a C-130 is in need of a maintenance upgrade to preserve and maintain service life, the Air Force uses an assessment metric referred to as “equivalent baseline hours.” The wing-boxes are changed once the aircraft reaches a certain “severity factor” in its operational service time. This is necessary because the wear and tear or impact of missions upon and airplane can vary greatly depending upon a range of factors such as the altitude at which a plane is flying, Toth said.

“Low-level flight may be three to four times the severity factor of flying at a higher level,” he said.

Also, by January of 2020 the entire fleet of C-130s will need to comply with an FAA mandate and be equipped with systems that will relay aircraft position to a greater fidelity back and forth between the airplane and the air traffic management authorities, he added. This will allow them to sequence more aircraft closer together and enhance an ability to move commerce.

Avionics Modernization Program, Increment 1 involves adding new 8.33 radios to the aircraft to improve communication along with initiatives to upgrade cockpit voice recorders and digital data recorders. C-130s will also receive new collision-avoidance technology designed to prevent the planes from hitting terrain or colliding with one another mid-air.  Inc. 1 is currently ongoing and is slated to complete by 2019.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
A C-130 Hercules from the 36th Airlift Squadron conducts a night flight mission over Yokota Air Base. | U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe

AMP Inc. 2 involves a larger-scale effort to integrate digital avionics throughout the airplane. Inc. 2 will require nine-months to one year of work and be completed by 2028, Toth explained.

“This will allow us to bring the airplane from analog to digital, integrate a glass cockpit and use touchscreen displays. We will get away from the old systems of avionics where we had dial-driven instrumentation to where it is all digital. This makes us able to process a lot more information,” Toth said.

As part of the C-130 modernization calculus, the Air Force will consider retiring some C-130Hs and replace them with newly-built C-130Js; the service has authority to acquire an additional 20 C-130Js, Toth added.

“We continue to evaluate where it makes sense to retire and older airplane and instead put that money into buying new airplanes,” he said.

C-130 Fleet

AC-130 gunships make up a small portion of a fleet of roughly 500 C-130 planes throughout the Air Force and Special Operations Command, Toth explained.

The cargo planes are used to airdrop supplies, equipment, weapons and troops in forward deployed locations.

As a propeller-driven aircraft, the C-130s are able to fly and land in more rugged conditions and withstand harsh weather such as obscurants. The propellers make the aircraft’s engines less susceptible to debris flying in and causing operational problems for the engines.

“It really allows you to do that tactical movement of equipment and personnel to take the airplane to the last tactical mile. A lot of our transport strategic airlifters are meant to go to a hard runway to a hard runway somewhere and then they turn over the cargo to be moved to the forward areas to a C-130 or a vehicle. The C-130 allows you to take that cargo and land on a smaller runway or an unimproved airfield,” Toth added.

C-130s are used for domestic, international and warzone transport including homeland security, disaster relief and supply deliveries, among other things.

“There are probably missions that have yet to be dreamed up for the C-130,” Toth said.

The fleet consists of 135 more modern C-130J aircraft and 165 older C-130Hs which have been around since the 80s, Toth explained.

Also, MC-130Js are specially modified airlifters engineered to transport Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Army Rangers.

“They are essentially a C-130J further modified with defensive systems with radar countermeasures and infrared radar and advanced sensors for specialized missions. They also can perform in-flight refueling,” Toth explained.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marines return to their old stomping grounds

Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot Parris Island is a sacred place that shapes everyday citizens into United States Marines. The journey from recruit in training to United States Marine is unforgettable and some even describe it as the best worst time of their life. Once a Marine leaves the island, most may never return.

U.S. Marines with 2nd Transportation Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, were given the opportunity to visit MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina during a professional military education trip on June 14, 2019.


The day started off with the Marines visiting the famous yellow footprints, the place where the training begins. They then made their way to the receiving bay where all recruits are allotted one phone call home to let their families know they arrived safely, followed by a tour of a recruit living quarters.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits

U.S. Marines with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, pose for a group photo with Brig. Gen. James Gylnn, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and Sgt. Major William Carter, sergeant major of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

“Going back to MCRD Parris Island was an overwhelming feeling,” said Pfc. Johnny Francis, who graduated from Parris Island on Nov. 23, 2019, now a motor vehicle operator with 2nd TSB. “It is the place that broke me, made me want to give up, but also gave me the courage to keep going and in turn allowed me to become a United States Marine.”

Marines pride themselves on being the best, and it all starts at recruit training. The Marine Corps has the longest entry level training of any of the four branches.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits

U.S. Marines with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, walk down the road at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019.

Recruits endure 13 weeks of rigorous physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. Under 24/7 watch and care of the Marine Corps Drill Instructor, recruits are completely stripped of their civilian habits and relearn everything the Marine Corps way.

“Getting to see recruit training as a Marine made me understand why we are held to such a high standard,” said Lance Cpl. Charlene Yabut, who graduated from Parris Island on Nov. 29, 2018, now a landing support specialist with 2nd TSB. “Those recruits don’t know it yet but they will remember everything that was drilled into their head. Being a Marine takes everything you have to offer every day and without the foundation that is laid here, we wouldn’t be the U.S. Marines.”

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits

U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Nicholas Underwood with Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, gives Marines from 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group a tour of Company K’s recruit living quarters at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

2nd TSB ended their trip on the island with witnessing 570 new Marines from P and M Company march and graduate on the Pete Ross Parade Deck.

Graduation day marks the end of recruit training; it is the culminating and most awaited day by all new Marines.

“We wanted to bring the Marines from our unit here to allow them to reflect and remind them that we all stepped foot on those yellow footprints for a reason; we all wanted to become Marines,” said Capt. Brian Hassett, Alpha Company Commander, 2nd TSB, CLR 2, 2nd MLG. “We have earned the title, but it doesn’t end there. We have to keep working hard, stay dedicated and be prepared for when America calls.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

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NATO requests more troops for Afghanistan

NATO’s secretary-general made a short announcement to the press on May 10 in which he confirmed that the organization was requesting that its member states deploy more troops to Afghanistan, but ruled out a return to military combat in that country.


Jens Stoltenberg spoke following a meeting with the United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May at her official 10 Downing Street residence in London, where the two leaders were preparing the groundwork ahead of a Brussels NATO meeting scheduled for May 25.

Stoltenberg said military authorities would use the summit to debate NATO’s petition to deploy several thousand additional troops to Afghanistan.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
Afghan agents with the National Interdiction Unit participate in the grand opening ceremony for the new Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan Headquarters Compound June 17, 2010, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of CNP-A, U.S. Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan)

Exact figures would be thrashed out in the coming weeks, the NATO chief said, adding that extra soldiers would not be deployed in a combative military capacity, but would rather provide training to the Afghan forces on the ground.

Some 13,500 NATO troops stayed on as advisers in the Central Asian nation when the Alliance officially ended its military intervention against the Taliban and Al-Qaida in 2014, some 12 years after the operation was launched.

Also read: US officials want to deploy 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan was nonetheless ongoing.

Stoltenberg said that national defense contributions would be scrutinized during the Brussels summit.

NATO has asked its members to invest 2 percent of their GDP into defense spending.

There were two new heads of state for whom the forthcoming summit was set to be their first NATO outing; United States President Donald Trump and Emmanual Macron, who is due to officially take French presidency on May 14.

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The Air Force’s first F-35s will be fully ready for war next month

After years of development, and having only just entered service officially with the US Air Force last year, the F-35A Lightning II will finally be declared fully combat ready next month, heralding a new age of air power for the service.


Aviation Week reports that the 34th Fighter Squadron, based at Hill AFB, Utah, will take delivery of brand new F-35As fresh from the production line in Dallas, Texas. What differentiates these latest stealth jets from the F-35As currently flown by the Air Force is that they will come with the Block 3F software upgrade.

Block 3F is the final step towards enabling the aircraft to fully utilize every air-to-surface and air-to-air weapon it was built to field in combat. Currently, the F-35s flown by the Air Force and US Marine Corps operate with a limited weapons load while Lockheed Martin and other program contractors ready the Lightning II’s software.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
A Norwegian F-35A taxiing (Photo Department of Defense)

The F-35 was created as part of the Joint Strike Fighter program of the late 1990s, bringing about a dedicated multirole replacement for the F/A-18 “Legacy” Hornet, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the AV-8B Harrier II jumpjet operated by the Marine Corps.

By building aircraft with similar architecture – just different engines – the Department of Defense theorized that money could be saved in the long run while keeping operational readiness for the military’s entire fighter fleet at an all-time high. As such, Lockheed Martin has developed three variants of the F-35: the A model for the Air Force, the B model short takeoff/vertical landing for the Marine Corps, and the carrier-capable C model for the Navy.

The F-35 was originally designed to work in tandem with the F-22 Raptor – the Raptor serving as an air superiority fighter while the Lightning II functioning more as a swing-role “Swiss army knife” aircraft. The deployment of the Block 3F software is a huge leap towards making that goal a reality today.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
A USAF F-35A departs from Luke AFB in Arizona (Photo US Air Force)

This upgrade comes in the wake of a training deployment conducted by the 34th Fighter Squadron to the United Kingdom earlier this year with F-35As that were still limited in their warfighting capabilities – most in terms of the weapons they could carry and employ. The Marine Corps has also pushed its F-35Bs out to Japan, but are also serving in a limited capacity until the new software update is rolled out.

With fears of a potential confrontation with North Korea, and with the rise of Chinese and Russian stealth fighters on the horizon, maintaining an edge with its own fifth generation fighters has become a major priority for the Air Force. According to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the F-35s which were deployed to the UK in spring could have been sent to battle if called upon, though their pilots would not be able to access the aircraft’s full potential, with the limited software built into their aircraft at the time.

The Pentagon expects to place more than 100 F-35s in Asia within the next three to four years to counter the Chinese air force’s fielding of its own fifth generation fighters like the J-31 Gyrfalcon and the J-20 multirole fighters.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new Navy budget speeds up construction of new destroyers

The Navy’s budget proposal accelerates construction of new Arleigh Burke-class DDG 51 Destroyers in 2019 as the service prepares to start construction of its first new, next-generation Flight III destroyer this year.


Budget data says the Navy proposes to increase production of DDG-51s to 3 in 2019, up from 2 in 2018, all while the prospect of a DoD budget amendment adding a 3rd DDG 51 in 2018 gains traction in Congress.

The new destroyers under construction, along with the upcoming emergence of DDG-51 Flight III ships, make up a key component of the Navy’s plan to reach an overall fleet size goal of 355 ships in coming years. The newest destroyers represent technically advanced warships able to fire new weapons, better detect enemy attacks, and prepare for a highly contested future maritime threat environment.

Also read: Navy names Arleigh-Burke destroyer after World War II Marine hero

Speaking at the Surface Naval Association symposium in January 2018, Capt. Casey Moton, Major Program Manager, DDG 51 Program Office, PEO Ships, said fabrication of the first Flight III Destroyer will begin at Huntington Ingalls in May 2018. Flight III destroyer warships are slated to start entering service in the 2020s.

Moton emphasized the new, super-sensitive AN/SPY-6 radar as a distinguishing characteristic of Flight III destroyers, as it is expected to vastly expand the protective envelope for ship-integrated defenses.

“Fielding the AMDR will bring much improved ballistic missile defense by providing truly integrated simultaneous air and missile defense,” Moton said at SNA.

(Kris Osborn | YouTube)The Navy is now finalizing the detailed design phase and finishing the 3D modeling needed to prepare for construction. The Navy hopes to enter an efficient, cost-saving multi-year contract initiative to build the first 10 Flight III ships; the first two of the new class of destroyers are now under contract. Huntington Ingalls Industries is building one called DDG 125 and Bath Iron Works is under contract to build DDG 126.

“Detailed designed is on track to support the start of construction with Flight III,” Moton said.

The Raytheon-built AN/SPY-6(V) radar is reported by developers to be 35-times more powerful than existing ship-based radar systems; the technology is widely regarded as being able to detect objects twice as far away at one-half the size of current tracking radar.

The AN/SPY-6 radar, also called Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), is engineered to simultaneously locate and discriminate multiple tracks.

Related: This new radar could be the US Navy’s force field against Chinese ship-killing missile

Navy officials tell Warrior that AMDR has completed a System Functional Review for integration with the upgraded Aegis Baseline 10 radar and software systems.

The AN/SPY-6 platform will enable next-generation Flight III DDG 51s to defend much larger areas compared with the AN/SPY-1D radar on existing destroyers. In total, the Navy plans as many as 22 Flight III DDG 51 destroyers, according to a previously completed Navy capabilities development document.

The AN/SPY-6 is being engineered to be easily repairable with replaceable parts, fewer circuit boards, and cheaper components than previous radars, according to Raytheon developers. The AMDR is also designed to rely heavily on software innovations, something which reduces the need for different spare parts, Moton said.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. (U.S. Navy Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann)

The Navy has finished much of the planned software builds for the AMDR system, however, Moton explained that using newly integrated hardware and software with common interfaces will enable continued modernization in future years. Called TI 16 (Technical Integration), the added components are engineered to give Aegis Baseline 10 additional flexibility should it integrate new systems such as emerging electronic warfare or laser weapons.

“The top-level biggest thing we are doing with Baseline 10 is to integrate AMDR and take full advantage of simultaneous air and missile defense. This will set up for future capabilities such as electronic warfare attack,” Moton added.

Moton said that special technological adaptations are being built into the new, larger radar system so that it can be sufficiently cooled and powered up with enough electricity. The AMDR will be run by 1000-volts of DC power.

“We want to get the power of the radar and minimize changes to the electrical plan throughout the ship,” Moton said.

The DDG Flight III’s will also be built with the same Rolls Royce power turbine engineered for the DDG 1000, yet designed with some special fuel-efficiency enhancements, according to Navy information.

The AMDR is equipped with specially configured cooling technology. The Navy has been developing a new 300-ton AC cooling plant slated to replace the existing 200-ton AC plant, Moton said.

More reading: Navy’s destroyers and cruisers get massive tech overhaul

Before becoming operational, the new cooling plant will need to have completed environmental testing which will assess how the unit is able to tolerate vibration, noise, and shocks such as those generated by an underwater explosion, service officials said.

DDG 51 Flight III destroyers are expected to expand upon a promising new ship-based weapons system technology fire-control system, called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA.

The technology, which has already been deployed, enables ship-based radar to connect with an airborne sensor platform to detect approaching enemy anti-ship cruise missiles from beyond the horizon and, if needed, launch an SM-6 missile to intercept and destroy the incoming threat, Navy officials said.

Air Force helps NASA with high-tech space suits
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) fires a Harpoon missile during a live-fire drill. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne)

Navy developers say NIFC-CA presents the ability to extend the range of attack missiles and extend the reach of sensors by netting different sensors from different platforms — both sea-based and air-based together into one fire control system.

NIFC-CA is part of an overall integrated air and missile defense high-tech upgrade now being installed and tested on existing and new DDG 51 ships using Aegis Baseline 9. Baseline 10, the next iteration of Aegis technology, brings additional improvements to NIFC-CA.

The system hinges ship-based Aegis Radar — designed to provide defense against long-range incoming ballistic missiles from space as well as nearer-in threats such as anti-ship cruise missiles.

More: Navy destroyer fires missiles in self-defense

Through the course of several interviews, SPY-6 radar developers with Raytheon have told Warrior Maven that simulated weapons engagements have enabled the new radar to close what’s called the “track loop” for anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense simulations. The process involves data signal processing of raw radar data to close a track loop and pinpoint targets.

The radar works by sending a series of electromagnetic signals or “pings” which bounce off an object or threat and send back return-signal information identifying the shape, size, speed, or distance of the object encountered.

The development of the radar system is hastened by the re-use of software technology from existing Navy dual-band and AN/TPY-2 radar programs, Raytheon developers added.

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AN/SPY-6 technology, which previously completed a Critical Design Review, is designed to be scalable, Raytheon experts say.

As a result, it is entirely plausible that AMDR or a comparable technology will be engineered onto amphibious assault ships, cruisers, carriers and other platforms as well.

Raytheon statements say AN/SPY-6 is the first truly scalable radar, built with radar building blocks – Radar Modular Assemblies – that can be grouped to form any size radar aperture, either smaller or larger than currently fielded radars.

“All cooling, power, command logic and software are scalable. This scalability could allow for new instantiations, such as back-fit on existing DDG 51 destroyers and installation on aircraft carriers, amphibious warfare ships, frigates, or the Littoral Combat Ship and DDG 1000 classes, without significant radar development costs,” a Raytheon written statement said.

The new radar uses a chemical compound semiconductor technology called Gallium Nitride which can amplify high-power signals at microwave frequencies; it enables better detection of objects at greater distances when compared with existing commonly used materials such as Gallium Arsenide, Raytheon officials explained.

Raytheon engineers tell Warrior that Gallium Nitride is designed to be extremely efficient and use a powerful aperture in a smaller size to fit on a DDG 51 destroyer with reduced weight and reduced power consumption. Gallium Nitride has a much higher breakdown voltage so it is capable of much higher power densities, Raytheon developers said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch these vets give advice on dating in the military


In this episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of former service members about how to manage relationships in the military.

Be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How this Chinese aircraft carrier stacks up against US ships

China is trying to transform its first aircraft carrier, currently a training vessel, into a combat ship ready to wage war, a senior officer has revealed.

Lu Qianqiang, the Liaoning’s executive officer, told state-run broadcaster CCTV that ship is currently being upgraded to serve in a combat role, making it more than just a training tool as China strives to become a world-class naval power with a modern carrier force, the Global Times reported.

The Liaoning, China’s only operational carrier, is a Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser that China purchased and refitted. It was officially commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012. Beijing is believed to be close to commissioning its first domestically produced carrier, and a third flat top is apparently in the works.


The first Chinese carrier was used to design the country’s second carrier — which resembles the Liaoning and is designated Type 001A, though it has no official name — and was expected to serve as a training vessel for carrier operations.

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Liaoning during refurbishment in Dalian Shipyard

(Photo by CEphoto)

Now China wants to turn the Liaoning, which was technically declared “combat ready” in 2016, into a combat vessel.

Lu Qiangqiang, an executive officer aboard the Liaoning, told Chinese media that the PLAN had upgraded the arresting cables and arresting nets, improved the anti-jamming capabilities of the superstructure, enlarged the flight control tower, optimized the propulsion and power systems, and made changes to the flight deck.

“These changes will definitely help us make the best of the ship, improve our training protocols and boost our combat capability even further,” Lu explained. “The Liaoning is shifting from a training and test ship to a combat ship. I believe this process is going faster and faster, and we will achieve our goal very soon.”

This would be a big change for the Liaoning. Here is how the Chinese ship compares with US carriers.

  • The Liaoning, originally known as the Varyag, is about 1,000 feet long and displaces about 60,000 tons fully loaded. It is the sister ship of Russia’s disappointing Admiral Kuznetsov carrier.
  • The US Navy’s Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers are over 1,000 feet long and displace roughly 100,000 tons.
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The USS Carl Vinson underway in the Persian Gulf.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King)

  • The Liaoning is diesel-powered, and the diesel-fueled steam turbine power plants are inefficient and reduce the speed and service life of the carrier. Its top speed is believed to be somewhere between 20 knots and 30 knots. The range is apparently limited to a few thousand miles.
  • The US Navy’s aircraft carriers are powered by onboard nuclear reactors. These ships have speeds in excess of 30 knots and an unlimited range.
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The USS Enterprise underway with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group in the Atlantic Ocean.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Harry Andrew D. Gordon)

  • The Liaoning uses ski jump-assisted short takeoff but arrested recovery (STOBAR) launch systems, which are harder on the aircraft and can only launch planes running at about 60,000 pounds. That means increased strain on the aircraft, reduced sorties, less fuel, reduced operational range, fewer armaments, and reduced combat capability.
  • US carriers use more effective steam or electromagnetic catapult-assisted takeoff but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) launch systems designed to launch much heavier aircraft.
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F/A-18 Hornets over the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez)

  • The Liaoning has an air wing consisting of 24 Sheyang J-15 fighter jets. There is the possibility that China may replace the fourth-generation J-15s with fifth-generation J-31s in the future.
  • The US Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers can carry a larger air wing consisting of as many as 55 fixed-wing aircraft. The primary fighter is the F/A-18, but the US is in the process of arming carriers with the new fifth-generation F-35Cs.
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An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron 147, launches off the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Lauren K. Jennings)

  • The Liaoning is armed with a 3D air/surface search radar over the main mast, four multifunctional active-phased array radar panels, a FL-3000 naval missile system, a Type 1030 close-in weapons system, and anti-submarine warfare rocket launchers.
  • US carriers have a number of advanced radar systems, RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Missiles, Phalanx close-in weapons systems, and Rolling Airframe Missiles.
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The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln launches a Rolling Airframe Missile during combat system ship qualification trials.

(U.S. Navy photo)

  • The Liaoning does not appear to have any special armor or protective covering, although it is difficult to know for sure.
  • US carriers have Kevlar covering vital spaces, like critical machinery and weapons-storage areas. In addition to extra armoring, US carriers are compartmentalized and have redundant systems to ensure they can take a hit.
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The US Navy aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the Pacific Ocean during a routine patrol.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ricardo R. Guzman)

  • “If you put the two side by side, obviously the US has huge advantages,” Matthew Funaiole, a fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider. But Chinese carriers are rapidly improving with each new ship.

Aircraft on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier saved a two people from a burning wreck

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The fitting Martin Luther King Jr. quote is a personal favorite of Staff Sgt. Nicholas Davis, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) artillery cannon crew member and section chief. Davis, an Ellijay, Georgia native, received the Soldier’s Medal on Jan. 22 at Shaw Gymnasium in front of his unit and division leadership for his actions that saved two lives last year.


“Often in times in combat, we have moments of self-reflection,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commanding general. “We have visions of who we are, we have expectations of who we are, but it’s not until that first moment under duress that our strength and character is tested. Through that crucible of fire, we prove who we are. That’s exactly what Staff Sgt. Davis did.”

On June 9, 2017, Davis was traveling to Georgia when he came across an overturned vehicle. Trusting his gut and noting the lack of concern from other commuters, he pulled over to make sure no one was in danger.

“I was pulling up, and I noticed there was a small engine fire underneath the belly of the car, so I jumped out and ran up to the vehicle,” Davis said.

There he found Rick and Sharon Steiert, trapped and soaked in gasoline from a container that had been thrown from the back of the car. Davis immediately got to work and pulled Rick from the inverted vehicle first, and then began working to save Sharon, who was still trapped inside by her seatbelt.

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As I was [unbuckling her seatbelt] the whole vehicle caught fire, and I just felt a blanket of fire wrap around my body, and everything just happened in a matter of seconds from there,” Davis explained. “But before I could get the other half of her body out, she caught fire from all the fuel that was on her. I noticed she was on fire [shortly] before noticing that I was on fire, too.

Davis worked quickly to free Sharon from the burning vehicle, then committed his efforts to extinguishing the flames that were still burning their legs.

After emergency personnel transported everyone to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Davis was diagnosed with severe second-degree burns on more than 75 percent of his lower leg. Sharon’s burns were more severe, and Rick also sustained injuries.

“They [doctors] said five seconds longer and I would have been halfway through a third-degree burn and almost into the fourth degree,” Davis said. “It was a very painful recovery, but nothing compared to what Sharon had to deal with; so I don’t complain about it.”

After a long recovery process, Davis received a heartfelt letter from Sharon’s daughter, Britney Balduc. In the letter, Balduc expressed her family’s desire to reunite with him.

“It was an emotional letter [sent] from their daughter because they were burned so badly and unable to write,” said Davis who was also eager to reconnect with the family he helped save.

Also Read: Soldiers hailed as heroes for saving crash victim from burning car

Davis said that he and the Steiert family have since built a lifelong friendship. Sharon and Rick, along with their son, Scott Capodice, were also in attendance at Shaw Gymnasium and joined Davis and his family as he was honored.

The Soldier’s Medal is a military award that recognizes peacetime acts of valor where a Soldier voluntarily puts himself or herself in personal danger, something that Davis said he did without a second thought that day.

“I did it because that was somebody’s life, and that somebody’s life means something to someone,” Davis said. “I couldn’t imagine if I was in their situation and no one came to help me.”

During the ceremony, Poppas said that Davis serves as an example for all Soldiers to emulate.

“A lesser man, a lesser Soldier, a lesser person, never would have stopped, let alone gone in two separate times and pulled them to safety,” said Poppas. “We’re honoring his acts that are an example for us all. It’s who we should be, no matter what the endeavor, and how we should act when we come across an event like he did.”

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Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commanding general, pins the Soldier’s Medal on Staff Sgt. Nicholas Davis, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) artillery cannon crew member and section chief, during a ceremony held at Fort Campbell, Jan. 22, 2018. Davis, an Ellijay, Georgia, native and seven-year combat veteran with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, received the award for heroism and his lifesaving actions when he rescued a couple from a burning vehicle, June 9, 2017. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen)

Davis, a seven-year combat veteran with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, received praise for his heroism, and his leadership spoke highly of his character.

“He’s just an all-around good Soldier,” said 1st Lt. Charles Trumpfheller, Davis’ platoon leader. “He’ll do anything for anybody and really, he’s one of those [noncommissioned officers] who you can count on to get things done.”

Poppas shared Trumpfheller’s sentiments.

“You’re an inspiration to us all Staff Sgt. Davis,” he said after adorning the Soldier’s Medal onto Davis’ uniform. “Thank you for your actions; we all have something to learn from you.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

U.S. officials are claiming that looming sanctions are putting economic pressure on Iran and helping to stir up street protests, with President Donald Trump saying he expects the economic “pain” to force Tehran to seek a deal with Washington.

“I know they’re having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing. But I will tell you this, at a certain point, they’re going to call me and they’re going to say, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal. They’re feeling a lot of pain right now,” Trump said at a news conference in Brussels on July 12, 2018.


Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while attending a NATO summit in the Belgian capital, have been pushing European allies to increase the economic pain in Tehran by supporting the U.S. sanctions, which are due to go into effect on Nov. 4, 2018.

“We ask our allies and partners to join our economic pressure campaign against Iran’s regime,” Pompeo said in a tweet before meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

But Europe’s biggest economic powers — France, Germany, and Britain — have pledged to try to counteract the U.S. sanctions as part of their efforts to keep honoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May 2018 and announced the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions.

Pompeo has pointed to the recent arrest of an Iranian diplomat in Germany in connection with an alleged plot to bomb a gathering of Iranian expatriates in Paris in trying to convince U.S. allies to join the Washington’s pressure campaign on Tehran.

“There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence, and instability in one of our countries next,” he tweeted. “We must cut off all funding the regime uses to fund terrorism and proxy wars.”

‘Malign Activities’

During a visit to Dubai on July 12, 2018, Sigal P. Mandelker, a U.S. Treasury undersecretary, said the economic pressures on Iran were helping fuel street protests and should prompt Tehran to stop what she called its “malign activities” in the Middle East.

“You’ve seen the Iranian people, of course, stand up loudly, at risk of their own lives, shouting in protest about the corruption that’s happening within Iran,” Mandelker said. “So much money has gone to support malign activities elsewhere, with very little focus on the economy itself.”

Iran’s support for the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hizballah, Shi’ite rebels in Yemen, and embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad all represent a “despicable use of Iranian revenue,” she said.

Since the United States moved to reimpose sanctions on Iran, the Iranian rial has plummeted to 78,500 to the dollar, nearly half the official exchange rate, while unemployment has remained high.

Economic protests swept the Iranian countryside at the end of 2017 and have occurred in recent weeks as well. Wildcat strikes and demonstrations have also erupted over water scarcity.

Promised billion-dollar deals with Western firms that emerged after the nuclear deal was signed have evaporated in recent weeks, with businesses citing worries about being penalized by the U.S. sanctions and cut out of the U.S. consumer market if they continue to operate in Iran.

Reuters reported that Iranian oil exports to India, Iran’s second largest customer for crude, fell by 16 percent in May 2018 as privately owned refineries cut back purchases even as state refineries increased purchases from Iran.

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After a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 12, 2018, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top adviser said Russian firms are prepared to fill in for some of the loss of business.

“Putin said that Russia is prepared to continue its oil investment in Iran at the level of billion. It means Russia is ready to invest this amount in Iran’s oil sector,” Ali Akbar Velayati told Iranian state television.

“This is an important amount that can compensate for those companies that have left Iran,” he said.

Velayati claimed that one of Russia’s major oil companies has signed a billion deal with Iran, which he said “will be implemented soon,” without elaborating.

“Two other major Russian oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, have started talks with Iran’s Oil Ministry to sign contracts worth up to billion,” he said.

Mandelker said the Trump administration was aiming to “very significantly reduce” Iran’s crude oil exports. She said the administration also wants to make sure allies shut off financial avenues Tehran could use to evade the sanctions.

“The world needs to be wise to the ways in which they move deceptively,” she said.

However, limiting Iran’s ways of evading sanctions could prove difficult in the Persian Gulf region. The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), in particular, has a large ethnically Persian population and a long history of trade with Iran.

Iran has already exploited the U.A.E.’s free economic zones to set up companies to acquire otherwise-prohibited materials, and a recent report found that Dubai’s luxury real-estate market offers a money-laundering haven for Iranians.

Moreover, Dubai has traditionally served as a hub for exports to Iran, with data showing such exports totaled .9 billion in 2017.

Despite these extensive ties, Mandelker said Washington has an “excellent partnership” with the U.A.E. and that “there’s no question in my mind that working together, we can take significant action to disrupt [Iran’s] ability to fund themselves.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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