Missile Warning

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on January 19 at 7:48 p.m. EST. SBIRS is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, and is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands.

An Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 (ULA/Jeff Spotts)
An Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 (ULA/Jeff Spotts)

«Meeting the challenge of launching two critical national security missions from opposite coasts within a week, the entire ULA team once again demonstrated its unwavering dedication to 100% mission success», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «Thank you to our U.S. Air Force and industry teammates for their outstanding partnership in successfully delivering SBIRS to orbit today».

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 411 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter Payload Fairing (PLF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the AJ-60A Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) and RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

This is the 75th launch of the Atlas V rocket, ULA’s 2nd launch in 2018 and the 125th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

ULA’s next launch is the GOES-S mission for NASA and NOAA on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for March 1 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 4 Launch Highlights

 

The U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite, built at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California satellite manufacturing factory, was encapsulated on January 9
The U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite, built at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California satellite manufacturing factory, was encapsulated on January 9

First dive

The fourth Astute class submarine, HMS Audacious (S122), which is being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, has achieved a significant milestone by completing her first ever dive.

Fourth Astute class submarine completes first dive
Fourth Astute class submarine completes first dive

The trim and basin dive took place over two days in Devonshire Dock, at the Company’s site in Barrow-in-Furness last week.

The operation, which saw Audacious submerge fully under water for the first time, tested many of her on-board systems, and proved the safety and stability of the 7,400-tonne, 318-foot/97-metre-long attack submarine.

Employees from BAE Systems worked alongside Audacious’ crew, including its Commanding Officer, Captain Scott Bower, to complete the test.

Officially named in December 2016 and launched in April last year, HMS Audacious (S122) is scheduled to leave Barrow for sea trials later this year.

HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120) and HMS Artful (S121) are already in-service with the Royal Navy. Boats 5 and 6, HMS Anson (S123) and HMS Agamemnon (S124), along with a seventh, as yet unnamed, Astute-class submarine are in different stages of construction at the Barrow site.

Find out more
Find out more

Virtual reality

A team of student researchers from Air Command and Staff College, Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, conducted an Adaptive Flight Training Study January 9-12, 2018, at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, to aid in the Air Force’s advancement in training and education through virtual reality.

Second Lieutenant Kenneth Soyars, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, takes off during a virtual reality flight simulation January 10, 2018, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi Two subjects flew at a time but no other subjects were allowed to watch or learn from other individuals’ sorties. The Adaptive Flight Training Study pushed subjects to learn through the VR technology (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)
Second Lieutenant Kenneth Soyars, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, takes off during a virtual reality flight simulation January 10, 2018, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi Two subjects flew at a time but no other subjects were allowed to watch or learn from other individuals’ sorties. The Adaptive Flight Training Study pushed subjects to learn through the VR technology (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

The study was held primarily to find out if the VR environment would help adults learn at or above the rates they are currently learning, and how the brain works and reacts in conjunction with other parts of the body during the learning process.

Three test groups were tasked to fly a T-6 Texan II simulator with no prior T-6 flying experience. The groups ranged from experienced pilots who had not flown the T-6; pilots who have limited flying experience and none within the T-6; and the final group had no flying experience whatsoever.

«We took the idea of learning through advanced technologies like VR, and came up with our idea of a targeted learning system», said Major Matt Elmore, Air Command and Staff College student. «We are focusing on how our troops learn, using technology to measure the person, the environment and their performance, to see if we can provide better feedback both adaptively in the curriculum and to provide variables or indicators to select people for certain jobs based on the results».

The three test groups flew four simulations; the first simulated flight set the baseline so the data could be compared to the other three flights. The task was to fly a basic sortie around Columbus AFB and land safely.

During the baseline simulation flight, participants were given 10 minutes to read instructions of the pattern they would be flying and how to operate the aircraft. For their virtual training sessions the subjects were given three learning environments, providing less optical and auditory cues as they progressed to help them learn their task.

Following their training sessions the subjects would fly a final flight in the T-6 Texan II flight simulator to determine if there was any improvement through the virtual reality training.

«The data we are gathering can hopefully help us start to determine the key factors of what makes individuals succeed or perform better», Elmore said. «Now this won’t be an end all be all, but it’s good to be on the leading edge of this and start the conversation».

Because there is a lot of data being gathered, there are multiple groups attached to this project. Only a handful of individuals traveled to Columbus AFB to set up and conduct the study, each of them with a specific skill and portion of the study to control.

«There’s a lot of use cases with our technology that the Air Force was trying to do, like being able to actually measure the activity of the brain as a student was learning to fly», said David Zakariaie, Senseye CEO.

The Senseye team members are primarily setting up the gear, running the VR programs, and collecting the data from where, when and how the subject’s eyes are moving throughout their sorties.

«We’re focusing on pilots now, but everything that we are doing here today, could be applied to almost any Air Force specialty code», Zakariaie said.

Along with the tracking of eye movement, another set of data that will be collected; the heart and respiratory patterns will be tracked throughout the study to see if any connection can be made to patterns of success or failure during subject’s flights.

«We were briefed on the study and learned they wanted to include, in all of this, an element of state assessment», said Captain Wesley Baker, Air Force Research Laboratory deputy program manager for cognitive performance optimization. «For the purposes of this study I will be measuring the heart rate and respiration data of 15 individuals as they fly in the simulations».

The data is specifically being collected from the eyes, heart and lungs to possibly find each individual’s estimated maximum cognitive loads; this is a factor on the success of the research, as the implications of the possible findings could be applied to limitless training environments across the Air Force.

«What we want to prove is that a virtual reality environment will help our students learn at a faster rate than the traditional methods, and more effectively», Elmore said. «The real question is where can’t this kind of learning go? We can drive this training and make it work for us instead of playing catch up and that’s a big takeaway, if we become early adopters».

Romanian Piranha

On January 12, 2018, General Dynamics European Land Systems signed a contract to deliver up to 227 PIRANHA 5 wheeled armored vehicles in six different configurations to the Romanian Armed Forces. The contract has a total value exceeding $1 billion. It is part of the Romanian Army’s plan to modernize its legacy wheeled armored vehicle fleet.

General Dynamics European Land Systems Awarded $1 Billion Contract to Deliver PIRANHA 5 Wheeled Armored Vehicles to Romanian Army
General Dynamics European Land Systems Awarded $1 Billion Contract to Deliver PIRANHA 5 Wheeled Armored Vehicles to Romanian Army

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose and Deputy Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu attended the signing ceremony held at the National Defense Ministry headquarters.

The modern PIRANHA 5 vehicles will be produced in Romania under a strategic cooperation and transfer of technology project between General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag and the Romanian company Uzina Mecanică București (UMB).

Since 2006, the Romanian Armored Forces has fielded variants of PIRANHA vehicles which have been deployed in various missions in-country and abroad, demonstrating its reliability and performance.

«The Romanian Army is one of the most important PIRANHA users in Europe. We are very honored by this contract award as it reflects the high confidence and satisfaction the Romanian Army has in our vehicles», said Oliver Dürr, Vice President Wheeled Vehicles and Managing Director of General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag.

«With this step, we have established a sustainable collaboration with a trusted partner which has a significant industrial footprint in Romania», said Thomas Kauffmann, General Dynamics European Land Systems Vice President International Business & Services. «The transfer of technology and the local production of these vehicles present an enormous opportunity to the Romanian industry».

With more than 11,000 systems fielded, the PIRANHA is one of the most successful 8×8 wheeled armored vehicles in the world.

Aegis Ashore

In a landmark demonstration, Lockheed Martin connected key components of its Aegis Ashore and Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) technologies, validating the ability to greatly increase operational performance, efficiency and reliability of Aegis Ashore.

Aegis Ashore configured with Lockheed Martin Solid State Radar provides greatly increased performance
Aegis Ashore configured with Lockheed Martin Solid State Radar provides greatly increased performance

«Connecting these systems is more than a technological advantage – it’s a way to provide the warfighter with earlier intelligence and expanded situational awareness», said Doctor Tony DeSimone, vice president and chief engineer of Lockheed Martin Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors. «Integration of these technologies allows us to deliver the most advanced solid-state radar system in LRDR with the proven tested capability of Aegis. For the warfighter this combination provides an increased capability, in terms of additional performance and reaction time, to safely protect the people and nations they defend».

Connecting the two mature systems, amounts to a low risk ‘technology refresh’ of the legacy SPY-1 antenna, resulting in:

  • Ability to detect targets at longer distances;
  • Ability to combat larger numbers of targets simultaneously;
  • Additional target engagement opportunities;
  • Higher performance in complicated land environments;
  • Minimized interference with civilian or military radio emitters and receivers;
  • Increased use of the new SM-3 Block IIA missile’s performance.

Lockheed Martin Solid State Radar (SSR) is a scalable Gallium Nitride (GaN) based radar building block, which in addition to cutting edge performance provides increased efficiency and reliability. The Department of Defense’s newest Ballistic Missile Defense sensor, LRDR, will use thousands of Lockheed Martin SSR building blocks to provide enhanced target acquisition, tracking and discrimination data to the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System. LRDR completed its critical design review in 2017 and is on track to be operational in Alaska in 2020.

Aegis Ashore is the land-based ballistic missile defense adaptation of the proven Aegis Combat System, currently fielded in Romania and soon to be fielded in Poland.

The research and development demonstration proved that current and future versions of Aegis can simultaneously command tasking of the Lockheed Martin SSR and receive target tracks from the radar. The next phase of activity is to demonstrate simulated missile engagements with live tracking, scheduled for the first half of 2018. These tests build on multiple previous demonstrations in 2015 and 2016, in which Aegis software variant Baseline 9 already tracked live targets using a prototype version of Lockheed Martin SSR hardware powered by multi-purpose Fujitsu GaN from Japan.

The Aegis software has evolved over time and is now compatible with multiple radars. Recently, Australia and Spain selected Aegis configurations featuring their own solid-state radars. Weaving existing systems together is becoming more common to stay ahead of threats efficiently, by leveraging prior or concurrent investments in advanced technology.

«The Aegis Combat System is adaptable and flexible to address warfighting needs, which is one of the reasons the system is so widely used around the world», said Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors. «As our customers look to update their technology with the help of their industrial bases, they are increasingly choosing alternative radars to equip their platforms. In challenging threat environments, we can deliver advanced capability at lower cost if we can be flexible and connect a variety of existing technologies».

Lockheed Martin SSR, including very robust participation from Japanese industry, is one of the configuration options available to Japan for its upcoming Aegis Ashore installations. Because Lockheed Martin provides the Aegis Ashore software and SPY-1 radar, its SSR can operate in a way that uses a common Integrated Air and Missile Defense Aegis baseline with the one recently purchased by Japan’s Ministry of Defense for its new destroyers.

Multi-copter UAV

On January 10, 2018, Boeing unveiled a new unmanned electric Vertical-TakeOff-and-Landing (eVTOL) Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV) prototype that will be used to test and evolve Boeing’s autonomy technology for future aerospace vehicles. It is designed to transport a payload up to 500 pounds for possible future cargo and logistics applications.

The electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing multi-copter UAV is designed to carry up to 500 pounds
The electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing multi-copter UAV is designed to carry up to 500 pounds

«This flying cargo air vehicle represents another major step in our Boeing eVTOL strategy», said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. «We have an opportunity to really change air travel and transport, and we’ll look back on this day as a major step in that journey».

In less than three months, a team of engineers and technicians across the company designed and built the CAV prototype. It successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing Research & Technology’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri.

Boeing researchers will use the prototype as a flying test bed to mature the building blocks of autonomous technology for future applications. Boeing HorizonX, with its partners in Boeing Research & Technology, led the development of the CAV prototype, which complements the eVTOL passenger air vehicle prototype aircraft in development by Aurora Flight Sciences, a company acquired by Boeing late last year.

«Our new CAV prototype builds on Boeing’s existing unmanned systems capabilities and presents new possibilities for autonomous cargo delivery, logistics and other transportation applications», said Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president. «The safe integration of unmanned aerial systems is vital to unlocking their full potential. Boeing has an unmatched track record, regulatory know-how and systematic approach to deliver solutions that will shape the future of autonomous flight».

Powered by an environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system, the CAV prototype is outfitted with eight counter rotating blades allowing for vertical flight. It measures 15 feet long (4.57 meters), 18 feet wide (5.49 meters) and 4 feet tall (1.22 meters), and weighs 747 pounds (339 kilograms).

Chicago-based Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries.

Classified spacecraft

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on January 12 at 2:11 p.m. PST. Designated NROL-47, the mission is in support of national defense.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6

«As the nation’s most trustworthy launch provider, today’s launch exemplifies ULA’s ongoing commitment to 100 percent mission success», said Will Crawford, ULA’s NRO program manager. «My sincere thanks to the entire ULA team and our mission partners at the NRO and U.S. Air Force who made this, our 27th NRO launch, possible».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5, 2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) powered by one common booster core and two solid rocket motors built by Orbital ATK. The common booster core was powered by an RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) launch vehicle in Decatur, Alabama.

This is ULA’s first launch in 2018 and the 124th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. It was also the 36th flight of the Delta IV rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

ULA’s next launch is the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for Jan. 18 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Delta IV NROL-47 Launch Highlights

The National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-47 payload, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-6
The National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-47 payload, encapsulated inside a 5-meter payload fairing, is mated to a Delta IV rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex-6

SM-3 for Japan

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles for an estimated cost of $133.3 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on January 9, 2018.

The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA's larger rocket motors will allow it to take out threats sooner
The Standard Missile-3 Block IIA’s larger rocket motors will allow it to take out threats sooner

The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale of four (4) Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles. Also included are four (4) MK 29 missile canisters, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ technical assistance, transportation, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.  The estimated total case value is $133.3 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region.

The proposed sale will provide Japan with an increased ballistic missile defense capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there.  Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these additional munitions and support into the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractors will be Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ (SM-3); and BAE Systems, Minneapolis, MN (MK 29). There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require annual trips to Japan involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, and oversight for approximately five years.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

Chamber tests

Officials at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (PAX) say its Anechoic Chamber is a viable option for rapid testing and mission readiness… «it’s a win-win. It’s about speed to the fleet, safety, efficiency and cost savings».

The P-8A Poseidon, the U.S. Navy's latest aircraft for maritime patrol and reconnaissance has consistently deployed since 2013
The P-8A Poseidon, the U.S. Navy’s latest aircraft for maritime patrol and reconnaissance has consistently deployed since 2013

Recent live, virtual, and constructive infrastructure development of the AN/UPX-43 IFF Interrogator AIMS Certification test process, which is just one of the projects executed at PAX’s Anechoic Chamber, this fall resulted in reduced scheduling and costs for future certification testing. By conducting the AIMS certification in the chamber, versus inflight, the savings were achieved from 12 weeks at $5.31 million, producing 3.6 hours of data to approximately, 3.5 weeks of testing at about $800 thousand, yielding about 15 hours of data.

«Right now, one of the most important things we do for the warfighter is to get them the technology they need to complete their mission», said Lieutenant Denver White, aircraft P-8A project officer. «With the Anechoic Chamber, we are not susceptible to weather or other flight test issues that might cause test delays».

The P-8A’s Interrogator IFF-I infrastructure development results using the Multi-Jammer Characterization Wall is compared using previous flight test results at the AIMS Program Office to prove the capability for future P-8A AIMS certifications.

«It is historic and important; the P-8A had not been in the chamber for several years, and when it was in the chamber, these specific systems were not tested nor was infrastructure developed for them», said White. «Since we are not in the air, and we have a lot more instrumentation on the ground we can slow down, look into a deficiency more to isolate it».

About 75 percent of the required tests were conducted from inside the chamber. Once inside, UPX-43 Identification Friend or Foe; Interrogator, ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures system; APY-10 Radar; GPS and cyber security of communications and navigation systems testing were all conducted; Saving time, money and wear-and-tear on the aircraft and parts. The aircraft was stressed during real-world flight test scenarios, using the navigation simulation equipment.

There was simulated motion, position and altitude, which allowed the P-8A mission systems to experience airborne environments and engage with other systems and platforms.

In the controlled environment, testers may try a lot of methods that aren’t options when airborne, he said. The testing gets to the root cause, which ultimately allows the deficiency to be evaluated, repaired and gets the aircraft back to the fleet mission ready.

If the test methods are approved and deemed successful, these methods may be used for other Navy aircraft, such as, the MQ-25 Stingray, F-18 Super Hornet, MH-60R Seahawk and F-35 Lightning II. The initial testing using this method was used on the P-8A Poseidon and its mission systems.

Cyber Division

About 20 Electronic Warfare Operators completed the division’s four month-training period last week, and officially joined the ranks of the IAF’s Electronic Warfare and Cyber Division. This division’s activity is classified and clandestine, but its capabilities and performance have a direct impact on the battlefield and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF’s) capability to succeed in every campaign and theatre.

They operate flown and ground systems that disrupt enemy weapons, and have a tremendous influence on the battlefield: new Electronic Warfare Operators joined the IAF’s EW and Cyber Division last week
They operate flown and ground systems that disrupt enemy weapons, and have a tremendous influence on the battlefield: new Electronic Warfare Operators joined the IAF’s EW and Cyber Division last week

«There is no doubt that the division significantly empowers the Israel Air Force (IAF) in emergency and routine», said Major H’, Commander of the Electronic Warfare (EW) and Cyber Academy, to the graduates. «It is important to understand that our operational activity will never be in the spotlight, and that secrecy is an inherent part of our mission. We are currently participating in clandestine missions day and night, most of which the public will not hear about. You should be proud to have received the opportunity to operate these advanced operational systems».

The IAF’s Electronic Warfare Division includes ground and aerial units, which are responsible for disrupting enemy signals in order to protect IAF aircraft flying in threatened territory. Throughout the four-month training period, which was led by the «Celestial Crow» Unit’s Electronic Warfare and Cyber Academy in Tel-Nof Air Force Base (AFB), the new operators studied the foundations of the division’s capabilities and acquired the necessary skills for their service.

«Course 171 can be summed up in two words: professionalism and innovation», said Lieutenant G’, Commander of the Training Center in the Electronic Warfare and Cyber Academy. «We emphasized professionalism – expanding the foundations stage from five to six weeks, adding many classes and practical skills. The course has been adjusted to the changing theatres, we utilized new training systems, and changed the way we evaluate cadets».

«Throughout the various stages of the course you proved that you are worthy to join this division», added Major H’. «You studied the foundations, became acquainted with the capabilities and acquired the basic skills you need. You now take the knowledge you acquired to your operational units, where you will expand and deepen your education and will quickly become certified to become part of the division’s operational core».