The U.S. Army‘s acquisitions chief said recently that the military needs to make a major technological breakthrough in speed if combat forces are to maintain their edge on future battlefields.
“What is it that we could do that would be the same as ‘own the night?’ ” said Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisitions, logistics and technology, referring to the service’s breakthrough in night-vision technology. “And I’ll tell you, the thing that keeps coming is speed.”
Speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Science Technology Symposium and Showcase, he recalled an experience he had in the early 1980s as a tank commander during a force-on-force training exercise at Fort Carson, Colorado.
“I was coming up over this ridgeline, and the other guy is coming up over the other ridgeline. I saw him, he saw me,” Jette said.
Each tank started rotating its turret toward the other.
“It was like quick draw: Who is going to get in line with the other guy first?” Jette said, describing how it all came down to “the rate at which the turret turned.”
The Russians are experimenting with robotic turrets that use algorithms to speed up decision-making in combat, he said. Images appear on a flat screen inside the tank, and “the computer goes, ‘I think that is a tank.’
An M1A2 SEP Abrams from 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, Idaho Army National Guard (middle) and a M1134 Anti-Tank Guided Missile Vehicle from 1st Squadron, 14th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., return from waging mock battle against one another during an eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise, at Orchard Combat Training Center, south of Boise, Idaho, Aug. 14, 2014.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Chris McCullough)
“They have [pictures] of our tanks and vehicles in their computer, and the computer looks at them and puts little boxes around them and, depending on how far away they are and depending on what orientation they are in, the computer has an algorithm that says, ‘Shoot that one first, that one second and that one third,’ ” Jette said.
This reduces the number of steps the gunner must go through before engaging targets.
“I need your ideas on how to put ourselves way past what these guys are onto,” Jette said, addressing an audience of industry representatives. “How can we be faster? How can we be better?”
He added, “One of the reasons we are not doing that yet is we are not going to mistake an ice cream truck for a tank. Our probability of target detection and identification has to be extremely high. Our thresholds would have to be higher; we would have to be better, we would have to be faster. Speed is going to be critically important.”
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
An Army intern has received the nation’s premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering.
Nikita Kozak, an intern with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, is an Iowa State junior pursuing a mechanical engineering major. Kozak is now a recipient of a scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in STEM research.
Kozak is spending this summer working as an ARL High Performance Computing intern. He was one of 5,000 Goldwater Scholarship applicants from 443 institutes. Only 493 students were selected.
Kozak’s work at the Army lab is in optimizing gas turbine engines for variable speed operation. His experience working for the Army made him more competitive, he said.
“My time as an Army intern allowed me to develop into a better researcher and problem solver as well as providing me with real world research experience,” Kozak said.
The one-year scholarship is available to juniors and two-year scholarships are available to sophomores. It covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of ,500 per year.
Pictured left to right are ARL Sgt. Maj. Keith N. Taylor, undergraduate gold medalist Nikita Kozak, and ARL Outreach Coordinator Dr. Patrice Collins.
(U.S. Army Photo by Jhi Scott)
“This is quite a significant accomplishment,” said Dr. Simon M. Su, DOD Supercomputing Resource Center.
After graduating from Iowa State, Kozak plans to pursue a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He hopes to one day establish his own multidisciplinary research group focused on engine design and computational modeling approaches at a national laboratory.
Kozak, who is serving on his second summer internship at the laboratory, is co-mentored by Army researchers Drs. Anindya Ghoshal, Muthuvel Murugan and Luis Bravo, from ARL’s Vehicle Technology Directorate.
“Nikita Kozak is an exceptional student who has demonstrated a superior ability to understand scientific concepts, communicate complex topics with ease, and values working in a military ST environment,” Bravo said. “He has an impressive drive to reach the highest academic levels and has reached important research milestones using High Performance Computing in support of Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. I am very glad to see him a recipient of the Goldwater fellowship.”
Kozak said plans to keep his options open and continue working with his Army research mentors as his pursues his doctorate in mechanical engineering.
“My Army mentors treat as a collaborator, allowing me to explore and learn with freedom and receive expertise when needed,” Kozak said.
Infantry soldiers often carry an array of supplies and gear that together can weigh anywhere from 60 to 120 pounds, said Capt. Erika Hanson, the assistant product manager for the Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport.
But the SMET vehicle, which the Army expects to field in just under three years, “is designed to take the load off the soldier,” Hanson said. “Our directed requirement is to carry 1,000 pounds of the soldier load.”
That 1,000 pounds is not just for one soldier, of course, but for an entire Infantry squad — typically about nine soldiers.
Late May 2018, during a “Close Combat Lethality Tech Day” in the courtyard of the Pentagon, Hanson had with her on display the contenders for the Army’s SMET program: four small vehicles, each designed to follow along behind a squad of infantry soldiers and carry most or all their gear for them, so they can move to where they need to be without being exhausted upon arrival.
“I’m not an infantry soldier,” Hanson said. “But I’ve carried a rucksack — and I can tell you I can move a lot faster without out a rucksack on my back. Not having to carry this load will make the soldier more mobile and more lethal in a deployed environment.”
The four contender vehicles on display at the Pentagon were the MRZR-X system from Polaris Industries Inc., Applied Research Associates Inc. and Neya Systems LLC; the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport from General Dynamics Land Systems; the Hunter Wolf from HDT Global; and the RS2-H1 system from Howe and Howe Technologies. Each was loaded down with gear representative of what they would be expected to carry when one of them is actually fielded to the Army.
(U.S. Army photos)
“Nine ruck sacks, six boxes of MREs and four water cans,” Hanson said. “This is about the equivalent of what a long-range mission for a light Infantry unit would need to carry.”
Hanson said that for actual testing and evaluation purposes, the simulated combat load also includes fuel cans and ammo cans as well, though these items weren’t included in the display at the Pentagon.
These small vehicles, Hanson said, are expected to follow along with a squad of soldiers as they walk to wherever it is they have been directed to go. The requirement for the vehicles is that they be able to travel up to 60 miles over the course of 72 hours, she said.
Three of the vehicles are “pivot steered,” Hanson said, to make it easier for them to maneuver in off-road environments, so that they can follow soldiers even when there isn’t a trail.
One of the contenders for SMET has a steering wheel, with both a driver’s seat and a passenger seat. So if a soldier wanted to drive that vehicle, he could, Hanson said. Still, the Army requirement is that the SMET be able to operate unmanned, and all four vehicles provide that unmanned capability.
All four contenders include a small, simplistic kind of remote control that a soldier can hand-carry to control the vehicle. One of those remotes was just a light-weight hand grip with a tiny thumb-controlled joystick on top. A soldier on patrol could carry the light-weight controller at his side.
More advanced control options are also available for the SMET as well, Hanson said.
“All can be operated with an operator control unit,” she said. “It’s a tele-operation where you have a screen and you can operate the system non-line-of-site via the cameras on the system.”
When soldiers on patrol want the SMET to follow along with them, they can use the very simple controller that puts a low cognitive load on the Soldier. When they want the SMET to operate in locations where they won’t be able to see it, they can use the more advanced controller with the video screen.
Hanson said the Army envisions soldiers might one day use the SMET to do things besides carry a Soldier’s bags.
“It’s for use in operations where some of the payloads are like re-trans and recon payloads in the future,” she said. “In that situation, it would be better for a soldier at a distance to be able to tele-operate the SMET into position.”
(U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez)
The “re-trans” mission, she said, would involve putting radio gear onto the SMET and then using a remote control to put the vehicle out at the farthest edge of where radio communications are able to reach. By doing so, she said, the SMET could then be part of extending that communications range farther onto the battlefield.
One of the vehicles even has an option for a soldier to clip one end of a rope to his belt and the other end to the vehicle — and then the vehicle will just follow him wherever he walks. That’s the tethered “follow-me” option, Hanson said.
In addition to carrying gear for soldiers, the SMET is also expected to provide electric power to soldiers on patrol. She said while the vehicle is moving, for instance, it is required to provide 1 kilowatt of power, and when it’s standing still, it must provide 3 kW.
That power, she said, could be piped into the Army’s “Universal Battery Charger,” which can charge a variety of batteries currently used in soldier products. Vendors of the SMET have each been provided with a UBC so they can figure out how best to incorporate the device into their SMET submissions.
Hanson said the Army hopes that the SMET could include, in some cases, up to five UBCs on board to ensure that no soldier in an Infantry squad is ever without mobile power.
In November 2017, the Army held a “fly-off” at Fort Benning, Georgia, where 10 contenders for the SMET competed with each other. Only the developers of the vehicles were involved in the fly-off.
“From those, we down-selected to these four, based on their performance,” Hanson said.
To make its choice for the down-select, she said the Army looked at things like mobility and durability of the systems.
Now, the Army will do a technology demonstration to down-select to just one vehicle, from the remaining four. To do that, Hanson said, the Army will first provide copies of the competing SMET vehicles to two Army Infantry units, one at Fort Drum, New York, and one at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Additionally, Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will also get a set of the vehicles.
“Over the course of the tech demo, we’ll be getting feedback from the soldiers and the Marines on what systems best fill the need for the infantryman,” she said.
The technology demonstration, she said, will last just one year. And when it’s complete, feedback from soldiers and Marines will be used to down-select to just one system that will then become an Army program of record.
“I think the best part of the program is the innovative approach the team is taking to field them to soldiers before they select the program of record,” Hanson said. “That way, it’s the soldier feedback that drives the requirement, not the other way around.”
Hanson said she expects the program of record to begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, after which the Army will go into low-rate initial production on the SMET. By the second or third quarter of FY 2021, she said, the first Army unit can expect to have the new vehicle fielded to them.
Hanson said the Army has set a base price of $100,000 for the SMET.
Getting your paperwork to Fort Couch seems like the sweetest gig in the world. However, you’ll soon realize that while you’ve spent the last however-many years having the civilian broken out of you, the rest of them have kept their “civilian mentality” completely intact.
You may think the military trained you well enough to handle a world full of PowerPoint presentations, but that’s not even scratching the surface. These are some of the many roadblocks you’ll run into in the civilian workplace that may have you explaining to HR that you’re, in fact, not crazy, just military-raised.
7. Breaking highly sensitive equipment
In the military, everything is expendable from a certain point of view. If you smash something, there’s almost always someone on standby to fix it. Weapon? Armory. Radios? Radio guy. Everything else? Supply.
In the civilian world, wanton smashing will get you a stern talking-to.
We get all “accidentally” break things sometimes. (Image via GIPHY)
6. Crashing the company vehicle
If you crash a Humvee and you didn’t destroy anything too valuable in the process, you’ll get chewed out and maybe a reduction in rank, but you’re still going to be around the following week.
If you go joyriding in the company vehicle and don’t track the mileage, let alone smash it into a fire hydrant because you were trying to tactically park it as expediently as possible, you might end up in a performance-evaluation meeting.
5. Inter-office pranks
Sure, it may seem like fun to throwdown in random Nerf wars between cubicles, but when you join in, kick in the break room door, flip the table over for a hasty firing position, and lay down suppressive fire so you can bound to the fridge to get a more sturdy firing position, you might get a few stares.
Especially if you’re the one who starts it… and the only one doing it… (Image via GIPHY)
4. Telling off your coworkers
Apparently, civilians don’t appreciate being called “f*ckface” in the middle of a meeting on Monday morning because they didn’t answer their emails on a Saturday.
In the civilian world, if you do slip up and call that f*ckface a “f*ckface,” blame it on a lack of morning coffee. That seems to work.
Yes. Lack of coffee. Perfect excuse. (Image via GIPHY)
3. “Tactically acquiring” (totally not stealing) office supplies
Fraud, waste, and abuse is considered a thing in the outside world. You can’t just pocket supplies on the down-low to trade them for other supplies with the guy in the cubicle on the third floor. Especially if these supplies are more than just pens, batteries, or Gerber multi-tools.
“Gear adrift is a gift” totally counts for food in the break room. (Image via GIPHY)
2. Walking into any establishment with a weapon
Back in the day, if you heard someone scream “WHERE THE HELL DID I PUT MY RIFLE!?” no one batted an eye. If you reacted, it’s because someone who wasn’t armed should’ve been.
For some reason, civilians get antsy around weapons. Rifles, handguns, and even the 7-inch KA-BAR strapped to your ankle are all no-nos.
1. Showing up hungover every single weekday
Everyone wants to pretend that it’s cool to drink or that it’s hip to have a nightcap or two before bed until they run into someone who’s made alcoholism a dedicated profession.
If you find yourself hungover beyond function, blame it on the previously mentioned “lack of morning coffee.” Civilians are so accustomed to coffee that they have more than your standard “sh*t” and “decent” varieties of coffee.
*Bonus* Letting your sense of humor show
It’s all fun and games until you have to stop and explain why your sense of humor isn’t crazy. Sometimes, civilians just don’t get your dark and f*cked up sense of humor — so play it close to the chest.
The US Air Force is now accelerating a massive AI push to cyber-harden networks, improve weapons systems, and transform functions of large combat air platforms such as the B-2, F-15 and F-35, service officials said.
“The Air Force has over 600 projects incorporating a facet of artificial intelligence to address various mission sets,” Capt. Hope Cronin, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.
While AI can of course massively expedite data consolidation, cloud migration and various kinds much-needed cybersecurity functions, it is increasingly being applied more broadly across weapons systems and large platforms.
AI performs a wide range of functions not purely restricted to conventional notions of IT or cyberspace; computer algorithms are increasingly able to almost instantaneously access vast pools of data, compare and organize information and perform automated procedural and analytical functions for human decision-makers in a role of command and control.
When high-volume, redundant tasks are performed through computer automation, humans are freed up to expend energy pursuing a wider range of interpretive or conceptual work.
For the F-35, B-2 and F-15, rapid data-base access, organizing information and performing high-volume procedural functions are all decided advantages of AI applications. Algorithms, for example, are increasingly able to scan, view and organize targeting, ISR and sensor input such as navigation information, radar warning information, images or video.
F-35A off the coast of Northwest Florida.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)
The F-35, for instance, uses early iterations of artificial intelligence to help acquire, organize and present information to the pilot on a single screen without much human intervention. Often referred to as easing the cognitive burden upon pilots, the effort is geared toward systematically presenting information from a range of disparate sensors on a single screen. The F-35s widely-discussed sensor fusion, for example, is evidence of this phenomenon, as it involves consolidating targeting, navigation and sensor information for pilots.
An F-35 computer system, Autonomic Logistics Information System, involves early applications of artificial intelligence wherein computers make assessments, go through checklists, organize information and make some decisions by themselves — without needing human intervention.
The computer, called ALIS, makes the aircraft’s logistics tail more automated and is able to radio back information about engine healh or other avionics.
A single, secure information environment provides users with up-to-date information on any of these areas using web-enabled applications on a distributed network, a statement from ALIS- builder Lockheed Martin says.
ALIS serves as the information infrastructure for the F-35, transmitting aircraft health and maintenance action information to the appropriate users on a globally-distributed network to technicians worldwide, the statement continues.
As a result, F-35 pilots will be able to control a small group of drones flying nearby from the aircraft cockpit in the air, performing sensing, reconnaissance and targeting functions.
At the moment, the flight path, sensor payload and weapons disposal of airborne drones such as Air Force Predators and Reapers are coordinated from ground control stations.
For instance, real-time video feeds from the electro-optical/infrared sensors on board an Air Force Predator, Reaper or Global Hawk drone could go directly into an F-35 cockpit, without needing to go to a ground control station. This could speed up targeting and tactical input from drones on reconnaissance missions in the vicinity of where a fighter pilot might want to attack. In fast-moving combat circumstances involving both air-to-air and air-to-ground threats, increased speed could make a large difference.
The prospect of using advanced algorithms and on-board computers to quickly perform a range of aircraft functions, while enabling human decision makers in a role of command and control, is further explored in a research paper from a London-based think tank called “Chatam House – Royal Institute of International Affairs.”
The 2017 essay, titled “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare,” explains how fighter and bomber pilot “checklists” can be enabled by AI as “cognitive-aiding tools.”
“…pilots rely significantly on procedures to help them manage the complexity of various tasks. For instance, when a fire-light illuminates or another subsystem indicates a problem, pilots are trained to first stabilize the aircraft (a skill) but then turn to the manual to determine the correct procedure (rule following). Such codified procedures are necessary since there are far too many solutions to possible problems to be remembered,” the Chatam House paper writes.
The Air Force’s stealthy B-2 bomber is yet another example; the aircraft is receiving a new flight management control processor which increases the performance of the avionics and on-board computer systems by about 1,000-times, Air Force officials said.
The upgrade is a quantum improvement over the legacy system, providing over a thousand times the processor throughput, memory, and network speed, according to senior Air Force leaders. The new processor will help automated navigation programs and expedite the B-2s “fly-by-wire” technology — all of which are designed to enable a pilot to expend energy upon the most pressing combat tasks with less intervention.
A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)
The B-2 Flight Management Control Processor Upgrade, also known as the Extremely High Frequency, Increment 1 processor upgrade, completed the final aircraft install in August 2016, Air Force officials told Warrior Maven in 2017.
Faster, more capable processors will enable the aircraft’s avionics, radar, sensors, and communications technologies to better identify and attack enemy targets. The sensor-to-shooter time will be greatly reduced, allowing the B-2 to launch weapons much more effectively, therefore reducing its exposure to enemy attacks.
Although built in the 1980s, the B-2 is a digital airplane which uses what’s called a “glass cockpit” for flight controls and on-board systems.
The upgrade involves the re-hosting of the flight management control processors, the brains of the airplane, onto much more capable integrated processing units. This results in the laying-in of some new fiber optic cable as opposed to the mix bus cable being used right now — because the B-2’s computers from the 80s are getting maxed out and overloaded with data, Air Force officials told Warrior.
Improved Processing capacity for the B-2 will enable the upcoming integration of digital nuclear weapons, such as the B61-12, service officials explained.
Also, the Air Force F-15 is now being engineered with the fastest jet-computer processor in the world, called the Advanced Display Core Processor, or ADCPII.
“It is capable of processing 87 billion instructions per second of computing throughput, translating into faster and more reliable mission processing capability for an aircrew,” Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson told Warrior in 2017.
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.
The Air Force is arming the F-15 with new weapons to better prepare the decades-old fighter for modern combat challenges and near-peer rivals — giving the jet an ability to fly into the 2040s and track and destroy enemy targets at further ranges under a wide range of combat conditions.
“The Air Force plans to integrate improvements for the AIM-9X and Small Diameter Bomb II on the F-15 over the next several years,” Capt. Emily Grabowski, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.
Air Force officials say the F-15 could be fully armed and operational with the SBD II as soon as this year.
The SDB II, now nearing operational readiness, is a new air-dropped weapon able to destroy moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions at ranges greater than 40-miles, Air Force and Raytheon officials said.
While the Air Force currently uses a laser-guided bomb called the GBU-54 able to destroy moving targets, the new SDB II will be able to do this at longer ranges and in all kinds of weather conditions.
The Air Force currently operates roughly 400 F-15C, D and E variants – and plans to keep the aircraft flying into the 2040s.
The new weapons are part of a larger F-15 sustainment and modernization overhaul which is integrating new sensors, targeting, electronic warfare systems and radar as well.
“Active Electronically Scanned Array radars are currently being installed on F-15C and F-15E aircraft at a rate of about 20 per year. Both AESA radars have met initial operational capability. Installs will continue at a similar rate until each platform has met full operational capability, projected to be 2022 for the F-15C and 2025 for the F-15E,” Grabowski said.
Improved radar is a key component to the weapons upgrades, as it enables improved threat detection and targeting against technologically advanced adversaries – such as a Chinese J-10.
All of these adjustments are part of the Air Force’s F-15service life extension effort now underway.
“Full-scale fatigue tests for both the F-15C/D and F-15E are in progress. Final results are still pending, expected to be completed in the 2020 timeframe and will be one of many data points used to assess the size and scope of a possible F-15 service life extension program,” Grabowski said.
The SDB II is built with a two-way, dual-band data link which enables it to change targets or adjust to different target locations while in flight, Raytheon developers have told Warrior Maven.
Engineers are also working on plans to integrate the bomb onto the F-35, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-16 as well, Raytheon officials said. The Air Force is already testing the F-35 with the SDB II.
A key part of the SDB II is a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker — a guidance system which can direct the weapon using millimeter wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared guidance and semi-active laser technology, according to Raytheon information.
A tri-mode seeker provides a range of guidance and targeting options typically not used together in one system, Raytheon weapons developers explain.
Millimeter wave radar gives the weapon an ability to navigate through adverse weather, conditions in which other guidance systems might encounter problems reaching or pinpointing targets.
Also, the SBD II brings a new ability to track targets in flight through use of a two-way Link 16 and UHF data link, Raytheon officials said.
The SBD II is engineered to weigh only 208 pounds, a lighter weight than most other air-dropped bombs so that eight of them can fit on the inside of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Raytheon officials explained.
If weapons are kept in an internal weapons bay and not rested on an external weapons pod, then an aircraft can succeed in retaining its stealth properties because the shapes or contours of the weapons will not be visible to enemy radar.
About 105 pound of the SDB II is an explosive warhead which encompasses a “blast-frag” capability and a “plasma-jet” technology designed to pierce enemy armor, Raytheon officials explained.
The SDB II also has the ability to classify targets, meaning it could, for example, be programmed to hit only tanks in a convoy as opposed to other moving vehicles. The weapon can classify tanks, boats or wheeled targets, Raytheon officials added.
In World War II, airborne units were really in their infancy. The Germans pioneered their use in combat, and the United States built perhaps the largest airborne force in the world, with five airborne divisions.
But these divisions had a problem. There weren’t many planes to transport them for large-scale airborne ops. Today, most transports used in airborne operations have rear ramps for loading cargo (like, jeeps and artillery). Back then, they didn’t.
The C-47 Skytrain was based on the DC-3 airliner. The C-46 Commado was also based on an airliner.
Yeah, paratroops could be dropped, but they could be scattered (thus creating the rule of the LGOPs). How would they drop the heavier equipment, and keep the crews together? The answer came with the development of gliders. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pioneered the use of them, but the U.S. and Great Britain built lots of them.
According to the National World War II Glider Pilots Association’s web site, the United States built over 13,000 CG-4A Waco gliders. Each of these gliders could carry 15 troops, or a Jeep and four paratroopers, a trailer, up to 5,000 pounds of supplies, an anti-tank gun plus operators, or a 75mm artillery piece and its crew.
About 6,500 glider pilots were trained during World War II, taking part in eight missions from Sicily to Luzon. In the 1950s, advancements in transport aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary-wing, led to the glider units being deactivated in 1952. But the gliders helped deliver firepower, troops, and supplies during World War II – when that ability was needed.
The video below shows how gliders were used during the Normandy invasion.
According to Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, deputy commandant for aviation, the U.S. Marine Corps have achieved a milestone when a target was destroyed by connecting an F-35B Lightning II aircraft with a HiMARS rocket shot for the first time.
“We were able to connect the F-35 to a HIMARS, to a rocket shot … and we were able to target a particular conex box,” Rudder told audience members on Oct. 8, 2018, at an aviation readiness discussion at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, or CSIS, Marine Corps Times reported.
The integration occurred during Marines’ latest weapons and tactics course at Yuma, Arizona: the F-35 gathered the target location using its high-end onboard sensors and shared the coordinates of the target to the HIMARS system via datalink in a “sensor to shooter” scenario. The HIMARS unit then destroyed the target.
The HIMARS is a movable system that can be rapidly deployed by air, using a C-130 Hercules. It carries six rockets or one MGM-140 ATACMS missile on the U.S. Army’s new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) five-ton truck, and can launch the entire Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM). In a typical scenario, a command and control post, a ship or an aircraft (in the latest test, an F-35B – the type that has just had its baptism of fire in Afghanistan) transmits the target data via a secure datalink to the HIMARS on-board launch computer. The computer then aims the launcher and provides prompt signals to the crew to arm and fire a pre-selected number of rounds. The launcher can aim at a target in just 16 seconds.
The Corps has been testing new ways to use its HIMARS lately. For instance, in 2017, the Corps successfully fired and destroyed a target 70 km out on land from the deck of the amphibious transport dock Anchorage. Considered the threat posed to maritime traffic by cruise missiles fired by coastal batteries in the hands of terrorist groups and militias, the amphibious group’s ability suppress coastal defenses from long-range using artillery is important to allow Marines to come ashore.
Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II’s assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fly a combat mission over Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook)
The aim is clearly to shorten what is known as the sensor-to-shooter cycle – the amount of time it takes from when an enemy target is detected by a sensor – either human or electronic – and when it is attacked. Shortening the time is paramount in highly dynamic battlefield.
In September 2016, a live test fire demonstration involved the integration of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B from the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX 1), based in Edwards Air Force Base, with existing Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture. The test was aimed at assessing the ability to shoot down incoming cruise missiles.
The F-35B acted as an elevated sensor (to detect an over-the-horizon threat as envisaged for the F-22) that sent data through its Multi-Function Advanced Data Link to a ground station connected to USS Desert Ship (LLS-1), a land-based launch facility designed to simulate a ship at sea. Using the latest Aegis Weapon System Baseline 9.C1 and a Standard Missile 6, the system successfully detected and engaged the target. Indeed, increasingly, 5th generation aircraft are seen as tools to provide forward target identification for both defensive and offensive systems (such as strike missiles launched from surface warships or submerged submarines). Back in 2013, PACAF commander Gen. Hawk Carlisle described the ability of advanced aircraft, at the time the F-22, to provide forward targeting through its sensors for submarine based TLAMs (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles).
In the following years, the stealthy F-22s, considered “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft”, saw their main role in the war on Daesh evolving into something called “kinetic situational awareness”: in Syria and Iraq, the Raptors escorted the strike packages into and out of the target area while gathering details about the enemy systems and spreading intelligence to other “networked” assets supporting the mission to improve the overall situational awareness. To make it simple, during Operation Inherent Resolve, the 5th generation aircraft’s pilot leverages advanced onboard sensors, as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to collect valuable details about the enemy Order of Battle, then shares the “picture” with attack planes, command and control assets, as well as Airborne Early Warning aircraft, while escorting other manned or unmanned aircraft towards the targets. Something the F-35 will also have to do in the near future.
This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.
Lockheed Martin announced Oct. 25 the successful conduct of the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Program Training Systems Critical Design Review. This event prepares the CRH program to proceed to assembly, test, and evaluation of the HH-60W helicopter’s training systems.
This marks an important step in developing maintenance and aircrew training devices, courseware products, and the training required to support the initial CRH maintenance and aircrew cadre. This progress is critical to the smooth entry of the HH-60W aircraft into the US Air Force fleet.
The joint Sikorsky and Air Force teams met over four days in September with key program participants from government and industry for an in-depth review.
Those attending included leaders from the USAF and key suppliers who took part in technical presentations. Operational combat rescue community representatives from USAF Air Education and Training Command and Air Combat Command also played an important role in the Critical Design Review.
The USAF program of record calls for 112 helicopters to replace the USAF’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue operations as well as personnel recovery for all US military services.
“I am really excited about achieving yet another program milestone in support of a six-month accelerated schedule. This capability is badly needed by the USAF rescue warriors that have continually engaged in combat operations since 1991. Sikorsky is absolutely committed to them and the accelerated schedule,” said Tim Healy, Sikorsky CRH program director. “The aircraft production is well under way, and with our training system design well understood by all parties, we can now begin assembly of the training devices and courseware as well.”
The $1.5 billion Engineering Manufacturing Development contract includes development and integration of the next generation combat rescue helicopter and mission systems. This includes delivery of nine HH-60W helicopters as well as six aircrew and maintenance training devices and instructional courseware designed specifically for the HH-60W aircraft. The training devices run the spectrum from full motion simulators, full aircraft maintenance trainers, and discrete “part task training devices” for aircraft systems such as avionics, rescue hoist, and landing gear.
The flight simulators will conform to the highest FAA standards and include the capability to link with other simulators on the Combat Air Forces Distributed Mission Operations network. The flight simulators will be used to train the full aircrew allowing pilots and special mission aviators to train together. Avionics desktop trainers will have an array of touch screens mimicking the “glass cockpit” and include the ability to learn aircraft systems troubleshooting while in a classroom or squadron environment.
The part task training devices are designed to train maintenance personnel and to provide hands-on training in operations, servicing, inspection, and component removal and installation.
The instructional courseware will provide interactive instruction and computer-based training for HH-60W maintainers and operators.
“This is an important step forward for the CRH program. The CRH team is working hard to provide our warfighters the capability they require to continue to conduct the critical personnel recovery mission far into the future. Having highly capable training devices and courseware that mirror aircraft capability absolutely underpins our ability to perform rescue operations,” said Dave Schairbaum, USAF CRH program manager. “This CRH training system will provide well-trained aircrew and aircraft maintainers to conduct this demanding mission.”
First flight of the HH-60W aircraft is expected in late 2018. Training devices and courseware are expected to be ready for training in early 2020.
Marine Corps Special Operations Command has decided to shelve its custom .45 pistols and outfit its elite Raiders with Glock 19s.
MARSOC has not yet responded to Military.com’s questions for the story, but a source familiar the effort said the command made the decision within the last month.
The move, first reported by Jeff Schogol of Marine Corps Times, follows a Marine Corps decision in February that a MARSOC operators to carry Glock pistols, since many of the elite outfit’s members prefer the popular Glock 19 9mm handgun over the custom .45 pistols the service bought them in 2012.
The reliable, easy-to-maintain 9mm pistol features a polymer frame and a 15-round magazine.
The Marine Corps just completed an exhaustive search for a new MARSOC pistol in 2012. The service awarded a $22.5 million contract to Colt Defense LLC., for up to 10,000 Close Quarter Battle Pistols.
The custom, 1911 design replaced the fleet of worn-out MARSOC M45 pistols. It features a rail for mounting lights, a custom trigger, a manual safety, improved ergonomics and glowing Tritium sights for low-light conditions.
The new .45s are nice, but many MARSOC troops prefer to carry Glock 19s instead.
One reason for the change is that 9mm ammunition and Glock replacement parts are available almost anywhere in the world, the source said.
The decision is not that surprising since U.S. Army Special Operations Command has also chosen the Glock 19 for its elite units such as the 75th Ranger Regiment, the source said.
Air Force leaders have broken their silence following President Trump’s order to create a new military service branch for space.
Leaders issued a message to airmen telling them to stay the course as the process of implementing the president’s guidance moves forward. Trump gave the order on June 18, 2018, during a speech to the National Space Council at the White House.
In a message to all airmen sent June 19, 2018, service brass including Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein confirmed that, as rumored, the new “space force” would be established as a military service inside the Air Force.
In the new message, the leaders voiced agreement with Trump’s position that the U.S. military approach to the space domain must become more robust to meet current and future challenges.
“The President’s statement to the National Space Council adds emphasis to the Air Force position — space is a warfighting domain and the entire national security space enterprise must continue to enhance lethality, resilience and agility to meet the challenge posed by potential adversaries,” they wrote. “We look forward to working with Department of Defense leaders, Congress, and our national security partners to move forward on this planning effort.”
Trump offered few details about the implementation of a space force in his announcement June 18, 2018, though he did say the Air Force and the proposed new service would be “separate, but equal.”
Air Force leaders told airmen they should not expect any “immediate moves or changes” in the wake of the announcement, saying creation of the new force would take time.
“The work directed by the President will be a thorough, deliberate and inclusive process,” they wrote. ” … Our focus must remain on the mission as we continue to accelerate the space warfighting capabilities required to support the National Defense Strategy.”
Policy experts told Military.com that building a new force could take years and would require major legislation and planning, even if it’s staffed by current service members and takes advantage of existing infrastructure.
The message to airmen concluded on an upbeat note.
“We remain the best in the world in space and our adversaries know it,” it said. “Thank you for standing the watch. We’re proud to serve with you!”
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.
When the B-52 is over 60 years old, and a large number of F-15 Eagles are over 30, it seems surprising that the Air Force is looking to replace a plane that won’t even be in service for twenty years until later this year.
However, according to an Air Force News Service article, the Air Force is looking to replace the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, which didn’t achieve its initial operating capability until December 1997 according to an Air Force fact sheet. This plane is an all-seeing eye that looks for and tracks ground targets, using the AN/APY-7, a 24-foot long synthetic aperture radar, according to a Northrop Grumman data sheet.
So, why is this system, which isn’t even old enough to drink, suddenly planned for replacement? The answer is in the airframe.
The E-8, like the E-3 Sentry, is based on the Boeing 707, a jet that first flew just over 59 years ago. With the exception of Omega Aerial Refueling Services, nobody operates this aircraft commercially.
Furthermore, according to a 2015 FlightGlobal.com report, the E-8s were produced by acquiring second-hand 707s. A September 2016 Air Force report noted that those second-hand 707s had as many as 60,000 flight hours before they had been purchased for conversion.
One JSTARS that had to be written off was built in 1967, according to DefenseTech.org.
In other words, these are old airframes and they’ve had a lot of use – even before the Air Force gave the 16-plane fleet over 1 million flight hours collectively (as of this past September). That is an average of 62,500 flight hours per plane — meaning that some of the E-8 aircraft could have in excess of 120,000 total flight hours.
That’s the equivalent of 5,000 days in the air.
What is the Air Force looking towards in replacing the E-8C? The JSTARS recapitalization project is likely to involve a smaller jet. According to a 2014 report by Aviation Week and Space Technology, Northrop Grumman is testing a new JSTARS based off a Gulfstream V business jet.
Boeing’s web site is touting a version of the 737 jet as its entry, attempting to partially piggyback on experience with the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon.
Team Mighty – Photos courtesy of CTT Solutions and Pillar Media Group
CZ USA has released its newest pistol, a polymer, striker-fired handgun called the CZ P-10Z. It has been described as weapon that combines all the best features of its competitors: a Steyr M-A1 bore axis, VP9 trigger, MP grip, and the safety and ergonomics of a customized Glock — all for a price comparable to the XDM.
If all that is true, this might be the best pistol of this breed yet. Time and round count will tell.
The CZ P-10 C (presumably so named in anticipation of a full-sized and sub-compact version yet to come) is a 9mm or .40 fiber-reinforced polymer framed, striker-fired pistol. It features a cold hammer-forged barrel, trigger safety and firing pin block safety with three-dot “stepped” metal sights suitable for use in racking the weapon off a bootheel or belt. MSRP is set at $499, which means barring political shenanigans you’ll be able to pick one up for even less.
When news of the new pistol first broke a couple months ago, Mike Pannone (a former Unit operator who now runs CTT Solutions) spoke highly of it.
“I’ve shot it and I’m gonna tell you all, this will be a big player in the striker market,” Pannone said. “Great ergos, legendary CZ reliability/durability/accuracy, incredible trigger right out of the box…and it fits in nearly every Glock 19 holster. Just wait until the full-size model hits…Duty gun and Production class USPSA here we go!”
Here he is more recently, going into more detail.
Now, why should you give a damn what this guy thinks?
Easy. Mike “Noner” Pannone of CTT Solutions is a former Force Marine turned CAG (1ST SFOD-D) operator. Pannone came back out of retirement after 9/11 to serve as the head marksmanship instructor for the (then-fledgling) Federal Air Marshals Service, the agency said to have the most stringent and rigorous firearms/marksmanship standards in US law enforcement.
He later worked as a security contractor for the Department of State overseas in highly non-permissive areas, later working with the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group.
Pannone is a CZ-sponsored competitive shooter, yes, but by all accounts is reckoned a blunt, even brutally candid SME. Knowing what we know of him, if he wasn’t happy with the weapon, he’d say so (or just wouldn’t say anything at all).
Here’s how CZ lists out the P-10 C’s primary advantages.
•Slide and barrel with extremely durable surface finish
•Two pairs of cocking grip surfaces for comfortable handling
•New “degree” of resistance against corrosion and mechanical damage
•Exceptional iron sights accentuated by three luminescent dots
•Automatic striker block guaranteeing drop safety
•Mechanically and thermally stable polymer frame reinforced with glass fibre
•Three interchangeable backstraps in S, M, L sizes
•Excellent magazine capacity of 15 (17) rounds in 9×19 calibre
•Excellent shooting comfort thanks to the well-designed ergonomic grip with distinct checkering
•Flat ambidextrous slide stop and magazine catch; a magazine catch with a wider grip for right-handed as well as left-handed shooters is available as an accessory
The pistol should be hitting shelves sometime during the first half of 2017. Find more details online at CZ USA.