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Monday, August 18, 2014

DARPA reveals GXV-1 concept - is this the future of armored fighting vehicles?

DARPA:

GXV-T seeks to develop revolutionary technologies to make future armored fighting vehicles more mobile, effective and affordable

For the past 100 years of mechanized warfare, protection for ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: More armor equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration. As a result, achieving even incremental improvements in crew survivability has required significant increases in vehicle mass and cost.

The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited Soldiers’ and Marines’ ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver in theater and accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments. Moreover, larger vehicles are limited to roads, require more logistical support and are more expensive to design, develop, field and replace. The U.S. military is now at a point where—considering tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost—innovative and disruptive solutions are necessary to ensure the operational viability of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles.

DARPA has created the Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program to help overcome these challenges and disrupt the current trends in mechanized warfare. GXV-T seeks to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that would simultaneously improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armor, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries. This improved mobility and warfighting capability would enable future U.S. ground forces to more efficiently and cost-effectively tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations.

“GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle—it’s about breaking the ‘more armor’ paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles,” said Kevin Massey, DARPA program manager. “Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armored fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable.”

To familiarize potential participants with the technical objectives of GXV-T, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers' Day on Friday, September 5, 2014, at DARPA’s offices in Arlington, Va. Advance registration is required through the registration website:http://www.sa-meetings.com/GXV-T. Space is limited and registration closes Friday, August 22, 2014 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time or when capacity is reached, whichever comes first. DARPA reserves the right to limit the number of attendees from any individual organization.

The DARPA Special Notice document announcing the Proposers’ Day and describing the specific capabilities sought is available at http://go.usa.gov/Edsh. For more information, please email DARPA-SN-14-53@darpa.mil.

GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armored fighting vehicles:
Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50 percent
Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50 percent
Increase vehicle speed by 100 percent
Access 95 percent of terrain
Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles

The GXV-T program provides the following four technical areas as examples where advanced technologies could be developed that would meet the program’s objectives:
Radically Enhanced Mobility – Ability to traverse diverse off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations; advanced suspensions and novel track/wheel configurations; extreme speed; rapid omnidirectional movement changes in three dimensions
Survivability through Agility – Autonomously avoid incoming threats without harming occupants through technologies such as agile motion (dodging) and active repositioning of armor
Crew Augmentation – Improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers; semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits
Signature Management – Reduction of detectable signatures, including visible, infrared (IR), acoustic and electromagnetic (EM)

Technology development beyond these four examples is desired so long as it supports the program’s goals. DARPA is particularly interested in engaging nontraditional contributors to help develop leap-ahead technologies in the focus areas above, as well as other technologies that could potentially improve both the survivability and mobility of future armored fighting vehicles.

DARPA aims to develop GXV-T technologies over 24 months after initial contract awards, which are currently planned on or before April 2015. The GXV-T program plans to pursue research, development, design and testing and evaluation of major subsystem capabilities in multiple technology areas with the goal of integrating these capabilities into future ground X-vehicle demonstrators.

Associated images posted on www.darpa.mil and video posted atwww.youtube.com/darpatv may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here: http://go.usa.gov/nYr.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sikorsky selected to build SB>1 Defiant demonstrator

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2014 — (PRNewswire) —  Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), and Boeing (NYSE: BA) have been selected to build a helicopter for the U.S. Army's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator Phase 1 program (JMR TD), paving the way for the next generation of vertical lift aircraft.

The U.S. Army Aviation Technology Directorate (AATD) selected the Sikorsky-Boeing team to continue the development of the SB>1 Defiant, a medium-lift helicopter configured to Sikorsky's X2™ coaxial design, through flight testing. First flight for the program is expected in 2017.

"Defiant will use Sikorsky's proven X2 technology to overcome aircraft design challenges, which will be critical requirements on future vertical lift aircraft," said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky president. "The Sikorsky-Boeing team's integrated approach has created a unique blend of expertise, innovative spirit and customer commitment that are unmatched in the industry. The complementary capabilities of each team member have delivered a design that will provide the best future vertical lift solution to the U.S. Army, and the flexibility of our design makes it suited for naval applications as well. This is a major leap forward."

The Defiant aircraft will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for vertical and forward flight, a pusher propeller for high-speed acceleration and deceleration and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system.

"Our team brings leadership and new ways of thinking to aircraft development," said Shelley Lavender, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. "As the original equipment manufacturers for both the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, we bring tremendous technological breadth and depth to the customer. I believe our technical capabilities and experience in development and flight testing of complex rotorcraft systems were a key factor in the customer's decision."
To date, Sikorsky and Boeing collectively have delivered more than 3,000 helicopters to the Army in support of its challenging missions.

The JMR TD program supports the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to deliver the next generation of vertical lift aircraft with greater performance, reliability and affordability. The Defiant aircraft packages evolutionary technologies in a new, innovative and affordable design that flies faster, farther and with more payload.
The JMR TD Program offers Sikorsky and Boeing the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Government in demonstrating the maturity of advanced and enabling future vertical lift technologies. Sikorsky and Boeing formed their JMR team inJanuary 2013, and each company has invested significantly in the program. 

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in aircraft design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based inHartford, Connecticut, provides high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $33 billion business with 56,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning opportunities for development and potential production of helicopters. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans, availability of funding and in the type and number of aircraft required; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in filings submitted by UTC and by Boeing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Distribution Statement A: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BREAKING: US ARMY General killed by Afghan soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United States Army major general was killed on Tuesday by an Afghan soldier, shot at close range at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, an official of the American-led coalition and Afghan media reported Tuesday. The officer was the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities in the Afghanistan war.

The coalition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and would not release the name of the major general, said an unspecified number of other service members of the American-led coalition and Afghan soldiers, including a senior Afghan commander were also shot. Their conditions were not known.

Other details of the shooting were sketchy, and the coalition official would only confirm that “an incident” had taken place at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.

Tensions at the camp ran high in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which took place around noon, and foreign troops appeared to be on edge, fearful of another attack.

Massoud Hossaini, a photographer for The Associated Press, said that he arrived at the camp’s gate ahead of other journalists, and just as coalition armored vehicles were pulling out of the compound. A coalition soldier manning the roof-mounted gun on one of the vehicles shouted for Mr. Hossaini to “get away,” and then fired an apparent warning shot.

“I don’t know what he fired. It was fired near our car,” he said, adding that he left the scene straight away.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement that a “few people were wounded” in the shooting, and that they had been immediately evacuated to a hospital. It described the attacker as “wearing Afghan National Army uniform,” which has long been a standard description offered after Afghan troops attack their foreign counterparts.

Other Afghan and coalition officials said they believed the shooter was an Afghan soldier. The coalition, in its brief statement, said the incident had involved “local Afghan and ISAF troops,” using the initials for the International Security Assistance Force, the formal name of the NATO-led coalition.

Sher Alam, an Afghan soldier guarding the entrance to the academy, located at Camp Qargha, said that senior Afghan and coalition officers had been meeting there on Tuesday, and that reports from inside the camp indicated that a number of the foreign officers were shot in the attack. He said that soon after the shooting, coalition helicopters landed inside the academy to evacuate the victims.

Tuesday’s shooting was the first so-called insider attack in Afghanistan in months. Such attacks, in which Afghan troops open fire on unsuspecting coalition forces, at one point posed a serious challenge to the war effort, sowing distrust and threatening to upend the American-led training mission that is vital to the long-term strategy for keeping the Taliban at bay.

Though the number of attacks has dropped sharply since 2012, when dozens occurred, they remain a persistent threat for coalition troops serving alongside Afghan forces.

Afghan and American commanders have said that they believe most of the insider attacks that have taken place were the work of ordinary soldiers who had grown alienated and angry over the continued presence of foreign troops here, and not carried out by Taliban fighters planted in Afghan units.

The Taliban, which often takes credit for insider attacks, had no immediate comment on Tuesday. Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents, said he was still trying to collect information about the incident.

But, he added, the Taliban had many people inside the camp, and that one of their loyalists could have been responsible for the attack.

Friday, July 25, 2014

US intel says Russia shelling Ukraine

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence that Russia is firing artillery at Ukrainian military positions from inside Russian territory, a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday.
Russia has boosted its support for Ukrainian separatists since a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile July 17 over territory controlled by the separatists, U.S. officials said, including sending additional rocket launchers into the conflict zone.
“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple-rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
Some of the information, Harf said, is based on “human intelligence,” meaning information supplied by sources on the ground rather than intercepted communications or images from satellites.
When two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said they had been hit by missiles fired from inside Russia. U.S. intelligence analysts have not been able to determine how the jets were downed.
But fire from Russian soil would mark an escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for the separatist forces. Putin has refused to back down despite increased sanctions against Russian officials and threats of more to come. Russia has played down its military support for the separatists.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has agreed to send teams of observers to two posts on the 1,200-mile Russia-Ukraine border. Russia, which sits on the OSCE’s permanent council, refused to give observers access to other parts of the border.
“I find it deeply disappointing that Russia was only willing to accept international observers at two small checkpoints on its border with Ukraine,” Daniel Baer, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, said in a statement.
“This will not provide any real accounting of Russia’s massive flow of illegal arms, funding and personnel,” Baer said.
A Russian military base near the city of Rostov-on-Don, about 100 miles east of the Ukrainian border, has been a staging area for multiple-rocket launchers, such as the truck-mounted system that U.S. officials believe fired an SA-11 radar-guided missile at the Malaysian airliner, said a senior Obama administration official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.
In the days after the airliner crashed, U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian military sent a column of more than 100 vehicles into eastern Ukraine, including tanks, artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Wednesday.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seperatist leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov claims he shot down Malaysian 777

Shortly before reports surfaced that a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 had crashed in eastern Ukraine, a separatist leader boasted on social media that his men had shot down an aircraft.
In a post on his VKontakte page, Russia's largest social media site, separatist leader Igor Girkin, aka Strelkov, wrote:  "In the vicinity of Torez, we just downed a plane, an AN-26. It is lying somewhere in the Progress Mine. We have issued warnings not to fly in our airspace. We have video confirming. The bird fell on a waste heap. Residential areas were not hit. Civilians were not injured." 
The AN-26 is a Soviet-built twin-engine transport plane used by the Ukrainian military. Torez is a small city of 80,000 located some 40 kilometers east of Donetsk.  Included in the post were two videos that showed a rising plume of black smoke in the distance.
The claim was posted at 5:50 pm Moscow time, shortly before reports surfaced that the Malaysian civilian aircraft, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in eastern Ukraine in the same area near the Russian border.  
A Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser, Anton Herashchenko, claimed the plane had been shot down by a ground-to-air missile.
Andrei Purgin, the self-styled first vice premier of the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic, told Interfax the separatists do not have weapons that could shoot down a plane flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters. 
Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities have denied shooting down the Malaysian passenger aircraft.

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