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July 30, 2016
12:11 AM
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Fifth Launch Completes Satellite Completes U.S. Navy’s Global Military Cellular Network

http://defense-update.com/2016.....ous-2.html

 

The US Navy's fifth and last Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite was launched June 24, 2016, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. MUOS is an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system designed to provide improved communications capabilities to users around the world, regardless of where they are in relation to a satellite, and will provide greater than ten times the bandwidth capacity compared with the current ultra-high frequency (UHF) constellation. With near global coverage, the MOUS network will support remote computer access, e-mail, short digital messaging, file and image transfer, and provide an interface for remote reception of sensor data.

MUOS offers 16 times the number of access points over the legacy system ensuring availability for prioritized calls while more users are on the system. once fully operational, the demand for MUOS is expected to grow rapidly. While more MUOS-compatible terminals are in development, over 55,000 currently fielded radio terminals can be upgraded to be MUOS-compatible, with many of them requiring just a software upgrade.

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

August 10, 2016
1:32 AM
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The U.S. Marines are testing a pocket-sized helicopter drone

http://www.computerworld.com/a.....drone.html

 

The U.S. Marine Corps is testing a pocket-sized drone that can deliver live video feeds from three cameras and is small enough that it's almost invisible from the ground.

The Black Hornet PD-100 can stay aloft for 25 minutes and has a range of 1.6 km (1 mile). That means Marines can use it for surveillance far beyond their current position.

It can fly missions guided by GPS, yet fits in a pocket. The cable hanging out the back in this image is an antenna, not a cord for power or data.

The three cameras can be used to send live video or take pictures. One camera points ahead, one directly down and one at 45 degrees to the ground.

The tests took place in California recently during an exercise called MIX-16, held to evaluate new technologies and how they might be used by the Marines.

The Black Hornet has already been used in Afghanistan by the British military, and the U.K. Ministry of Defence was sufficiently impressed to make it an ongoing part of the country's military kit.

It's made by Norway's Prox Dynamics, and the Norwegian Special Forces have ordered a version with night-flying capability. The drone is also used by a handful of other countries.

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

August 11, 2016
11:20 PM
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Microsoft accidentally leaks golden keys that unlock every Windows device

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/micro.....yptr=yahoo

 

Microsoft accidentally leaked the golden keys to the Windows kingdom. The keys allow hackers to unlock every Windows device, including tablets, phones and other devices that are protected by Secure Boot. The most alarming part about the leak is that it is believed that it may likely be impossible for Microsoft to fully recover from the leak.

The leakwas uncovered by two security researchers MY123 and Slipstream, who revealed in a (Star Wars-style) blog that the security flaw allowed malicious entities with admin rights or physical access to a device can bypass Secure Boot to not only run other operating systems (OS) like Linux or Android on the device but also install and execute rootkits and bootkits, at the most deeply penetrated level of the device.

The leak serves as a reminder of the potential dangers in security when tech firms are pressured by governments and law enforcement agencies into producing special keys that can be used by investigators to unlock devices, in the course of criminal investigations.

The researchers wrote: "A backdoor, which MS put in to secure boot because they decided to not let the user turn it off in certain devices, allows for secure boot to be disabled everywhere! You can see the irony. Also the irony in that MS themselves provided us several nice 'golden keys' (as the FBI would say) for us to use for that purpose."

"About the FBI: are you reading this? If you are, then this is a perfect real world example about why your idea of backdooring cryptosystems with a 'secure golden key' is very bad!," the duo added.

What is Secure Boot?

Microsoft's Secure Boot is part of its Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware, which when fully enabled deters users from booting their devices with other OS. Additionally, in specific devices, Secure Boot users cannot disable Secure Boot.

Secure Boot works in tandem with certain policies, among which one particular boot policy is designed to load early and disable OS security checks. Although this policy is useful for developers, especially when conducting OS testing, the loophole allows users to allegedly boot devices with whichever OS they desire.

According to a report by the Register, the "golden key" debacle was born out of a design flaw in this debug-mode policy, which was accidentally shipped onto retail devices. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the leaked golden key policy is universal and works on any device that operates on the Windowsboot manager.

Microsoft's response

The researchers claim that they informed Microsoft in March that they had uncovered the debug-mode policy. Although Redmond allegedly initially refused to follow up the issue, Microsoft later awarded a bug bounty and pushed out a security patch MS16-094. A second patch MS16-100 followed the first in August, after it was deemed "inadequate".

However, a third patch is also expected soon, given that the second patch did not completely resolve the issue. "Either way, it'd be impossible in practise for MS to revoke every bootmgr earlier than a certain point, as they'd break install media, recovery partitions, backups, etc," the the researchers commented.

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August 14, 2016
12:44 AM
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co's KC-46A refueling plane has been approved for production, with work underway for the first two low-rate initial production lots to be awarded in the next 30 days, the U.S. Air Force said on Friday.

"The KC-46 program has made significant strides in moving the Air Force toward the modernization needed in our strategic tanker fleet," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement announcing the approval.

The Air Force added it would soon award Boeing contracts for the first two batches, 19 aircraft in total, with a pre-negotiated combined value of $2.8 billion.

Last month the KC-46 refueled an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft in flight, passing the final test needed to begin initial low-rate production.

The Air Force said in June that it was seeking compensation from Boeing for delays in the program. Boeing already has taken $1.3 billion in pretax charges for cost overruns.

Boeing expects to deliver a first batch of 18 tankers in January 2018 instead of August 2017.

"Production approval is an important, positive step for the program, and the Boeing/Air Force team has worked extremely hard to get to this point," Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson said.

 

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

August 14, 2016
4:54 PM
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Underwater 'jet boots'

http://www.businessinsider.com.....&IR=T

 

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

September 3, 2016
12:12 AM
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Air Force investing $12B in F-15s

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/02/.....index.html

A $12 billion makeover is underway for the US Air Force's 1980's-era F-15 fighter, a step towards upgrading an air fleet that one military official recently called the "smallest, oldest and least ready" in history.

The F-15 has long been hailed as the most successful dog-fighting aircraft in US history, boasting an undefeated air-to-air combat record with more than 100 aerial combat victories, according to Boeing, the plane's primary contractor and developer.
The Air Force initially planned to replace the entire F-15 fleet with the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor, but production of the stealthy aircraft was halted in 2009 and only 188 of the 749 F-22s purchased by the Pentagon were ever produced.
With rival nations like China and Russia quickly closing the technology gap that has allowed the US to rule the skies for decades and fewer F-22s than expected at its disposal, the Air Force has decided to invest in a major face lift for the battle-tested F-15 to help fill the void by extending its lifespan through 2040.
 
The upgrade will cover 435 F-15s, boosting them with new radar technology, updated mission computer systems, modern communication tools, advanced infrared search and track capabilities and electronic warfare defenses so the F-15s can work in concert with more advanced aircraft, the Air Force told CNN.
Many of the upgraded F-15's will also be modified to carry 16 missiles, rather than the standard eight, giving those aircraft greater lethality, said Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson.
 
"Our potential adversaries are keenly aware of the importance of air superiority to our nation's way of war," Air Force spokesman Maj. Robert Leese told CNN. "This is why they continue to seek ways to contest our advantage in the air through the development and proliferation of new weapon systems."
 
"To maintain this advantage, the Air Force must not only develop new systems of our own, but continue to upgrade the capabilities of our legacy systems like the F-15," he said.
While the current initiative to update the F-15 with new technology dates back to 2002 with the development of its advanced radar system, the Air Force says the process has been a gradual one, with work on the modern radio and infrared targeting programs beginning just this year.
 
"The process to upgrade these planes is currently being evaluated and capabilities are being developed and tested," Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson told CNN.
While the F-15 will still lack the stealth capability of the F-22, upgrades in radar technology, infrared search and track, and electronic warfare capabilities will significantly improve its ability to detect, target, and engage enemy aircraft at a tactical advantage, according to the Air Force.
 
And the new high-tech mission computer and upgraded radio communication tools will not only allow the F-15 to better complement and communicate with its F-22 partner on the battlefield, but are also designed to support future technology as it is developed.
"The fourth generation F-15 has an unmatched record of success in the air-to-air role, and provides the critical additional capacity needed to augment and supplement the F-22 force in support of today's air superiority mission sets," Maj. Leese told CNN.
"As the Air Force continues to review our future force structure over the coming year, balancing operational effectiveness with current budget limitations, we expect the F-15 to play a critical role in the defense of our nation for the foreseeable future," he said.
The various upgrades will finish installing between 2024 and 2030, according to the Air Force.

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September 11, 2016
1:21 PM
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U.S. Navy's Master Plan to Haul Marines and M1 Abrams Tanks into Battle

http://nationalinterest.org/bl.....ttle-17665

 

The Navy is nearing completion of its first two new, high-tech ship-to-shore connectors for amphibious operations designed to transport large numbers of Marines, equipment and weapons to shore from beyond-the-horizon, senior Navy officials said.

The service plans to build 73 Ship-to-Shore Connectors, or SSCs, to replace the existing fleet of 72 Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, Maj. Gen. Christopher Owens, Navy Director of Expeditionary Warfare, told Scout Warrior.

With some of the existing fleet of LCACs approaching 30-years of service, the Navy needs to begin replacing them with new ones, service officials said.

"We have two (SSCs) under construction to deliver in 2017 and two more that will begin construction in March of 2016. This is an upgrade to the current LCAC," Owens said in an interview last year. 

While the SSC design will be very similar to an LCAC, the new craft will incorporate a number of innovations and upgrades which will give in more speed, greater range, more payload capacity, improved digital controls and a new engine, Owens added.

"The new craft will have a greater load capacity so we can return to carrying M1A1 battle tanks aboard them," he explained.

In addition, the SSCs will have a new Rolls Royce engine – the same one currently used in an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, Owens said. 

The new SSCs also increase the strength of the deck and improve the propellers when compared with existing LCACs, he said. The new SSCs can carry up to 74-tons across the ocean, enough to move an M1A1 Abrams tank with a mine plow, officials said.

 

(This first appeared in Scout Warrior here.)

 

The Navy's 72 LCACs, in service for decades since the 80s, can transport up to 60-tons, reach speeds of 36-knots and travel ranges up to 200 nautical miles from amphibious vehicles, Navy officials explained.

LCACs can access over 70-percent of the shoreline across the world, something the new SSCs will be able to do as well, service officials said.

The Navy contracted with Textron Systems to build an in-house Navy design for the SSCs through an initial construction deal to deliver up to eight new craft by 2020. The contract has a potential value of $570 million.

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

September 18, 2016
7:10 PM
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New US multipurpose enhanced hand grenade

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2.....-hand.html

http://www.ardec.army.mil/news.....px?id=2620

 

Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are working on the first new lethal hand grenade in more than 40 years, which is designed to give greater flexibility to the warfighter.

The multi-purpose hand grenade design will provide both fragmentation and blast overpressure more effectively and safely than its legacy counterparts. Once fielded, Soldiers will be able to select and use a hand grenade with different effects simply by flipping a switch.

Over the past five years, Picatinny engineers have been collaborating with Infantry School representatives, hand grenade cadre, as well as active duty Soldiers and Marines, to determine warfighter needs regarding hand grenades.

Our warfighter lost the capability of using an alternate lethal hand grenade when the MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service in 1975 due to an asbestos hazard, leaving the M67 fragmentation grenade.

The grenade development at Picatinny is being performed by engineers with the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC.

Science and technology funding has allowed ARDEC to spearhead the design effort to develop the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade, the Army’s next generation lethal hand grenade. The grenade will be designed to meet performance requirements required for close combat engagements in which the effects must be lethal.

ARDEC is working in cooperation with the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, and the Program Manager for Close Combat Systems, to insert critical technologies with Soldier-centric designs to improve safety and ease of use.

According to Jessica Perciballi, ARDEC Project Officer for ET-MP, U.S. Army, Grenades & Demolitions Division, ET-MP represents the first hand grenade that can be tailored to the mission.

“Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades,” she said.

“They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects. With the new multi-purpose grenade, they can carry one ET-MP grenade and have the ability to choose either fragmentation or concussive effects desired for the situation,” Perciballi said.

Another feature is that the grenades are designed for ambidextrous use, meaning that they can be thrown with either hand. Current grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users.

“Not only will ET-MP provide additional capabilities and lethality to the warfighter, it will also be the first Army Fuze Safety Review Board and Insensitive Munition-qualified lethal grenade in the Army’s portfolio,” Perciballi added.

According to Matthew Hall, Grenades Tech Base Development Lead, “The request for a multi-purpose grenade came from the warfighter in 2010. Research began almost immediately. The science and technology funding to move forward with a project came in fiscal year 2013.”

“We received direct input from the Army and Marine Corps early on, which was critical in ensuring the new arming and fuzing design was user friendly,” Hall said.

“With these upgrades in the ET-MP, not only is the fuze timing completely electronic, but the detonation train is also out-of-line,” Hall added. “Detonation time can now be narrowed down into milliseconds, and until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate.”

According to Hall, the current plan for ET-MP is to transition the new grenades to Project Manager Close Combat Systems in Fiscal Year 2020. That organization is also located at Picatinny Arsenal.

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

September 20, 2016
12:51 AM
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September 20, 2016
9:49 PM
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You beat me to it Rock. cheers

I find it an interesting coincidence that the initial development contract is for $21 billion and the designation is B21.  Considering the past history of other programs, they should call it B30 or something, because I am sure it will turn into a $30 billion dollar program in no time.

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October 23, 2016
6:09 PM
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Thousands of California soldiers forced to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after going to war

http://www.latimes.com/nation/.....story.html

 

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

But soldiers say the military is reneging on 10-year-old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on veterans whose only mistake was to accept bonuses offered when the Pentagon needed to fill the ranks.

"These bonuses were used to keep people in," said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran from Manteca, Calif., who says he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the Army says he should not have received. "People like me just got screwed."

In Iraq, Van Meter was thrown from an armored vehicle turret — and later awarded a Purple Heart for his combat injuries — after the vehicle detonated a buried roadside bomb.

Susan Haley, a Los Angeles native and former Army master sergeant who deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, said she sends the Pentagon $650 a month — a quarter of her family’s income — to pay down $20,500 in bonuses that the Guard says were given to her improperly. 

"I feel totally betrayed," said Haley, 47, who served 26 years in the Army along with her husband and oldest son, a medic who lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan.

Haley, who now lives in Kempner, Texas, worries they may have to sell their house to repay the bonuses. "They’ll get their money, but I want those years back," she said, referring to her six-year reenlistment.  

The problem offers a dark perspective on the Pentagon's use of hefty cash incentives to fill its all-volunteer force during the longest era of warfare in the nation’s history.

Even Guard officials concede that taking back the money from military veterans is distasteful.

"At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price," said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. "We'd be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law."

Facing enlistment shortfalls and two major wars with no end in sight, the Pentagon began offering the most generous incentives in its history to retain soldiers in the mid-2000s.

It also began paying the money up front, like the signing bonuses that some businesses pay in the civilian sector.

"It was a real sea change in how business was done," said Col. Michael S. Piazzoni, a California Guard official in Sacramento who oversaw the audits. "The system paid everybody up front, and then we spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible."

The bonuses were supposed to be limited to soldiers in high-demand assignments like intelligence and civil affairs or to noncommissioned officers badly needed in units due to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon agency that oversees state Guard organizations,  has acknowledged that bonus overpayments occurred in every state at the height of the two wars. 

But the money was handed out far more liberally in the California Guard, which has about 17,000 soldiers and is one of the largest state Guard organizations.

In 2010, after reports surfaced of improper payments, a federal investigation found that thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were given to California Guard soldiers who did not qualify for them, or were approved despite paperwork errors.

Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guard's incentive manager, pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three officers also pleaded guilty to fraud and were put on probation after paying restitution.

Instead of forgiving the improper bonuses, the California Guard assigned 42 auditors to comb through paperwork for bonuses and other incentive payments given to 14,000 soldiers, a process that was finally completed last month. 

Roughly 9,700 current and retired soldiers have been told by the California Guard to repay some or all of their bonuses and the recoupment effort has recovered more than $22 million so far.

Because of protests, appeals and refusal by some to comply, the recovery effort is likely to continue for years.

In interviews, current and former California Guard members described being ordered to attend mass meetings in 2006 and 2007 in California where officials signed up soldiers in assembly-line fashion after outlining the generous terms available for six-year reenlistments.

Robert Richmond, an Army sergeant first class then living in Huntington Beach, said he reenlisted after being told he qualified for a $15,000 bonus as a special forces soldier.

The money gave him "breathing room," said Richmond, who had gone through a divorce after a deployment to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. 

In 2007, his special forces company was sent to the Iraqi town of Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad in an area known as the "Triangle of Death" because of the intense fighting. 

Richmond conducted hundreds of missions against insurgents over the next year. In one, a roadside bomb exploded by his vehicle, knocking him out and leaving him with permanent back and brain injuries.

He was stunned to receive a letter from California Guard headquarters in 2014 telling him to repay the $15,000 and warning he faced "debt collection action" if he failed to comply.

Richmond should not have received the money, they argued, because he already had served 20 years in the Army in 2006, making him ineligible.

Richmond, 48, has refused to repay the bonus. He says he only had served 15 years when he reenlisted, due to several breaks in his Army service. 

He has filed appeal after appeal, even after receiving a collection letter from the Treasury Department in March warning that his “unpaid delinquent debt” had risen to $19,694.62 including interest and penalties.

After quitting the California Guard so the money wouldn’t be taken from his paycheck, he moved to Nebraska to work as a railroad conductor, but was laid off.

He then moved to Texas to work for a construction company, leaving his wife and children in Nebraska. With $15,000 debt on his credit report, he has been unable to qualify for a home loan.

"I signed a contract that I literally risked my life to fulfill," Richmond said bitterly. "We want somebody in the government, anybody, to say this is wrong and we’ll stop going after this money."

Though they cannot waive the debts, California Guard officials say they are helping soldiers and veterans file appeals with the National Guard Bureau and the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, which can wipe out the debts.

But soldiers say it is a long, frustrating process, with no guarantee of success. 

Robert D'Andrea, a retired Army major and Iraq veteran, was told to return a $20,000 bonus he received in 2008 because auditors could not find a copy of the contract he says he signed.

Now D'Andrea, a financial crimes investigator with the Santa Monica Police Department, says he is close to exhausting all his appeals. 

"Everything takes months of work, and there is no way to get your day in court," he said. "Some benefit of the doubt has to be given to the soldier."

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

November 17, 2016
12:59 AM
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The US Army is set to start testing a faster and more lethal variant of the Abrams tank

http://www.businessinsider.com.....nk-2016-11

 

The Army is now engineering a far-superior M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams tank variant for the 2020s and beyond --designed to be more lethal, faster, lighter weight, better protected, equipped with new sensors and armed with upgraded, more effective weapons, service officials said.  

Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology -- are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank.

The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

While Army officials explain that many of the details of the next-gen systems for the future tanks are not available for security reasons, Basset did explain that the lethality upgrade, referred to as an Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, is centered around the integration of a higher-tech 3rd generation FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared imaging sensor.

The advanced FLIR uses higher resolution and digital imaging along with an increased ability to detect enemy signatures at farther ranges through various obscurants such as rain, dust or fog, Bassett said.

“A combination of mid-wave and long-wave sensors allow for better target identification at long ranges and better resolution at shorter ranges,” Bassett explained.  Higher-definition sensors allow Army crews to, for instance, better distinguish an enemy fighter or militant carrying an AK 47.

Improved FLIR technologies also help tank crews better recognize light and heat signatures emerging from targets such as enemy sensors, electronic signals or enemy vehicles. This enhancement provides an additional asset to a tank commander’s independent thermal viewer.  

Rear view sensors and laser detection systems are part of these upgrades as well. Also, newly configured meteorological sensors will better enable Abrams tanks to anticipate and adapt to changing weather or combat conditions more quickly, Bassett explained.

“You do not have to manually put meteorological variables into the fire control system. It will detect the density of the air, relative humidity and wind speed and integrate it directly into the platform,” Basset explained.

The emerging M1A2 SEP v4 will also be configured with a new slip-ring leading to the turret and on-board ethernet switch to reduce the number of needed “boxes” by networking sensors to one another in a single vehicle. Also, some of the current electronics, called Line Replaceable Units, will be replaced with new Line Replaceable Modules including a commander’s display unit, driver’s control panel, gunner’s control panel, turret control unit and a common high-resolution display, information from General Dynamics Land Systems states.

Advanced Multi-Purpose Round

The M1A2 SEP v4 will carry Advanced Multi-Purpose 120mm ammunition round able to combine a variety of different rounds into a single tank round.

The AMP round will replace four tank rounds now in use. The first two are the M830, High Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT, round and the M830A1, Multi-Purpose Anti -Tank, or MPAT, round.

The latter round was introduced in 1993 to engage and defeat enemy helicopters, specifically the Russian Hind helicopter, Army developers explained.  The MPAT round has a two-position fuse, ground and air, that must be manually set, an Army statement said. 

The M1028 Canister round is the third tank round being replaced. The Canister round was first introduced in 2005 by the Army to engage and defeat dismounted Infantry, specifically to defeat close-in human-wave assaults. Canister rounds disperse a wide-range of scattering small projectiles to increase anti-personnel lethality and, for example, destroy groups of individual enemy fighters.

The M908, Obstacle Reduction round, is the fourth that the AMP round will replace; it was designed to assist in destroying large obstacles positioned on roads by the enemy to block advancing mounted forces, Army statements report.  

AMP also provides two additional capabilities: defeat of enemy dismounts, especially enemy anti-tank guided missile, or ATMG, teams at a distance, and breaching walls in support of dismounted Infantry operations.

Bassett explained that a new ammunition data link will help tank crews determine which round is best suited for a particular given attack. 

“Rather than having to carry different rounds, you can communicate with the round before firing it,” Bassett explained.

Engineering Change Proposal 1

Some of the upgrades woven into the lethality enhancement for the M1A2 SEP v4 have their origins in a prior upgrades now underway for the platform.

Accordingly, the lethality upgrade is designed to follow on to a current mobility and power upgrade referred to as an earlier or initial ECP. Among other things, this upgrade adds a stronger auxiliary power unit for fuel efficiency and on-board electrical systems, improved armor materials, upgraded engines and transmission and a 28-volt upgraded drive system.  This first ECP, slated to begin production by 2017, is called the M1A2 SEP v3 variant.

This ECP 1 effort also initiates the integration of upgraded ammunition data links and electronic warfare devices such as the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device – Electronic Warfare – CREW. An increased AMPs alternator is also part of this upgrade, along with Ethernet cables designed to better network vehicle sensors together.

The Abrams is also expected to get an advanced force-tracking system which uses GPS technology to rapidly update digital moving map displays with icons showing friendly and enemy force positions.

The system, called Joint Battle Command Platform, uses an extremely fast Blue Force Tracker 2 Satcom network able to reduce latency and massively shorten refresh time. Having rapid force-position updates in a fast-moving combat circumstance, quite naturally, could bring decisive advantages in both mechanized and counterinsurgency warfare.

Absolute reality never changes, only our perception of it does.

November 19, 2016
7:32 PM
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'Conductive concrete' shields electronics from EMP attack

http://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/.....mp-attack/

An attack via a burst of electromagnetic energy could cripple vital electronic systems, threatening national security and critical infrastructure, such as power grids and data centers.

Nebraska engineers Christopher Tuan and Lim Nguyen have developed a cost-effective concrete that shields against intense pulses of electromagnetic energy, or EMP. Electronics inside structures built or coated with their shielding concrete are protected from EMP.

The technology is ready for commercialization, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has signed an agreement to license this shielding technology to American Business Continuity Group LLC, a developer of disaster-resistant structures.

Electromagnetic energy is everywhere. It travels in waves and spans a wide spectrum, from sunlight, radio waves and microwaves to X-rays and gamma rays. But a burst of electromagnetic waves caused by a high-altitude nuclear explosion or an EMP device could induce electric current and voltage surges that cause widespread electronic failures.

"EMP is very lethal to electronic equipment,” said Tuan, professor of civil engineering. “We found a key ingredient that dissipates wave energy. This technology offers a lot of advantages so the construction industry is very interested.”

EMP-shielding concrete stemmed from Tuan and Nguyen’s partnership to study concrete that conducts electricity. They first developed their patented conductive concrete to melt snow and ice from surfaces, such as roadways and bridges. They also recognized and confirmed it has another important property – the ability to block electromagnetic energy.

Their technology works by both absorbing and reflecting electromagnetic waves. The team replaced some standard concrete aggregates with their key ingredient – magnetite, a mineral with magnetic properties that absorbs microwaves like a sponge. Their patented recipe includes carbon and metal components for better absorption as well as reflection. This ability to both absorb and reflect electromagnetic waves makes their concrete more effective than existing shielding technologies.

It's also more cost-effective and flexible than current shielding methods, Tuan said. Today’s shielding technologies employ metal enclosures that require expensive metal panel or screen construction, limiting their feasibility in large structures.

Through a research agreement with ABC Group, the Nebraska team modified its shielding concrete to work with the company's shotcrete construction method. The resulting patent-pending product protects building interiors from electromagnetic interference, such as radio waves and microwaves, as well as electronic eavesdropping. The material could protect military, financial or other structures that store critical electronics, such as data servers or aircraft.

Shotcrete, a spray-on method of applying concrete, can be used to cost-effectively retrofit existing buildings, a significant benefit to protect existing critical infrastructure and military installations, Tuan said.

To demonstrate its effectiveness, ABC Group recently built a prototype structure at its disaster recovery complex in Lakeland, Florida. The structure exceeds military shielding requirements.

“The concrete has the ability to provide what we call a multi-threat structure," said Nguyen, professor of electrical and computer engineering, who traveled to Florida to evaluate the prototype building. "The structure has to be able to withstand an attack either by an explosive or an electromagnetic attack or other scheme."

Under the licensing agreement, ABC Group has exclusive rights to market the shielding shotcrete product, and its EMSS-Electromagnetic Shielding Shotcrete is now commercially available, said Mauricio Suarez, director of licensing at NUtech Ventures, the university's non-profit technology commercialization affiliate.

“Our proprietary construction methods, which incorporate the Nebraska-developed technology, enable us to construct high-strength, blast-resistant structures that exceed military electromagnetic shielding requirements,” said Peter Fedele, ABC Group’s CEO. “Our prototype building has been well received as a new shielding construction material by leading experts in the EMP community.”

Tuan and Nguyen continue to investigate additional uses for conductive concrete, including improving de-icing and radiant heating and anti-static flooring applications. As new formulations expand the available applications, NUtech Ventures is helping the engineers apply for patents and navigate additional potential licensing agreements.

November 30, 2016
9:13 PM
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The Marines Are Equipping Hundreds of Infantrymen with Silencers

https://www.yahoo.com/news/marines-equipping-hundreds-infantrymen-silencers-171556373.html

 

The U.S. Marine Corps has equipped a battalion's worth of infantrymen with suppressors. The result are combat units better able to hear one other on the battlefield, meaning they can spread out farther and cover more ground.

Guns are loud. The sound of a gunshot can range from discomforting to downright painful, depending on the caliber and the distance from gun to listener. From a range of four to six feet, a M4 carbine, M249 squad automatic weapon, or M240 medium machine gun is between 159 to 164 decibels in loudness. Such loud noises cause immediate temporary hearing loss and contribute to permanent hearing loss over the long term.

Combat is a cacophony of gunshots and people with reduced hearing, made worse by a top-down command structure where one individual might issue orders to up to a dozen people. As a result, small infantry units tend to stay clustered close to one another on the battlefield. While units would be more effective spread out, a corporal, sergeant, or lieutenant can only make himself heard so far.

You can see why the Marines would be keen on quieting their guns. According to Military.com, the Marines have issued "silencers" to three rifle companies spread across the 2nd Marine Division. That's about 800 Marines, and includes everything from M4 carbines to M2 .50 caliber machine guns. (The term "silencer," although it's fallen into general use, is a misnomer and generally disliked by firearm enthusiasts. It's impossible to make a firearm silent, after all. A more accurate term is "suppressor," because the device suppresses-but doesn't totally eliminate-the sound of a gunshot.)

A suppressor is a tubular device that attaches to the barrel of a gun, with ringlike baffles or some other kind of proprietary mechanism inside. Normally, when a gun is discharged the bullet leaves the barrel followed by a rush of hot propellant gases known as the muzzle blast. A suppressor slows down those gasses, reducing the sound of the gunshot.

Advanced Armament Company, a military contractor and maker of suppressors, says their suppressor reduces the noise of a gunshot from an M4-type rifle by 32-34 decibels. That drops the noise of an M4 down to about 130 decibels, or about that of a jackhammer. Civilian AR-15 owners with suppressors, weapons similar to M4s but without the ability to fire quick bursts of full auto fire, report they can fire their weapons comfortably without ear protection.

That may not be silence, but it's a big improvement for troops on the battlefield who need to communicate with one another. The article says that although Marine squads are often spread out over 100 yards, it's hard for the squad leader to control the fire of individual riflemen-particularly those farthest away. With suppressors, it's easier for everyone to hear one another on the battlefield, trade information, and give and receive orders.

Suppressors do have some drawbacks. They have a tendency to gradually wear out, which is accelerated when firing fully automatic. They also add length to the firearm, a less desirable trait when fighting in cities and their enclosed spaces. Then again, enclosed spaces can magnify gunshot noises, so carrying a suppressor in such circumstances is a tradeoff that is probably worth it.

Even with those drawbacks in mind, the benefits of equipping America's riflemen with suppressors are pretty impressive. Expect to hear more in the future about equipping the troops with suppressors.

Just don't call them silencers.

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December 9, 2016
10:26 PM
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Coming Soon: The U.S. Army's New Armored Weapon  (new Bradley variants)

http://nationalinterest.org/bl.....take-18681

In less than a few weeks, the Army will roll-out its new infantry carrier platform called the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, designed to transport troops under armor, conduct reconnaissance missions, evacuate injured soldiers, fire weapons and withstand major enemy ground-war attacks, service officials told Scout Warrior.  

Built by BAE Systems, the platform is intended to replace the Vietnam-era M113 infantry carrier; several variants are planned, including a General Purpose Vehicle, Mortar Carrier Vehicle, Mission Command Vehicle, Medical Evacuation Vehicle and Medical Treatment Vehicle.

The new AMPV is, like its predecessor M113, a tracked vehicle engineered to handle rugged and rigorous terrain; however unlike it predecessor the new infantry carrier will be built with new, reinforced armor, improved mobility and state-of-the art next-generation newtorking technology such as force tracking systems, mission command applications and Satcom links. 

While the Army remains focused on being needed for counterinsurgency possibilities across the globe and hybrid-type wars involving groups of terrorists armed with conventional weapons and precision-guided missiles -- the service is identifying, refining and integrated technologies with a specific mind to attacking enemies and protecting Soldiers in major-power war.

Major, great-power war would likely present the need for massive air-ground coordination between drones, helicopters and ground vehicles, infantry and armored vehicle maneuver formations and long-range weapons and sensors. The idea is to be ready for enemies equipped with high-end, high-tech weapons such as long-range rockets, anti-tank guided missile and air attack capabilities. 

As evidence of this approach, Army leaders point to some of the attributes of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle as a platform well-engineered for large-scale mechanized warfare.

Overall, the Army plans to build roughly 3,000 AMPVs at a cost of $1 million to $1.7 million each.

The platform is designed to transport troops, evacuate injured Soldiers, escort logistical convoys and maneuver alongside larger vehicle such as Abrams tanks.  The AMPV is designed with the speed to maneuver such that it can increase its chance of avoiding Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. An ATGM is the kind of conventional weapon the Army would be likely to face in a hybrid or great-power engagement. The vehicle is also armored in order to reduce its vulnerability to long-range enemy weapons.

The AMPV is a tracked vehicle built on a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle chassis; it represents the Army's push to be prepared for the full-range of conflict. For example, the Army is divesting some of its fleet of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, specifically engineered for an IED or roadside bomb environment. While being ready for that possibility is still important to the Army - and still very much a future possibility -- the service does not need to keep its full inventory and is instead preparing for a wider-range of possible wars. 

The General Purpose AMPV transports two crew members and six passengers. It is armed with a 50-cal crew-served weapon and carry one injured Soldier on a litter.

The Mortar variant uses a crew of two with two Mortar technicians and an ability to fire 120mm rounds; the Medical variant carries a crew of three and six walking passengers.  

The vehicle is also engineered with high-tech, software programmable radios designed to transmit IP packets of information across the force in real time; it has a vehicle intercom, driver’s vision enhancer and a radio and satcom communications network called Warfighter Information Network – Tactical.

These technologies, along with a force-tracking technology (Blue Force Tracker) displaying icons showing friendly and enemy force positions on a moving digital map, give the vehicle an ability to function as a node on a large-scale battlefield network. These kind of systems will allow the AMPV crew to conduct mission-command functions on the move, share combat-relevant information in real time and use sensor to detect enemy fire at longer ranges.

The AMPV also has a DUKE v3 electronic jammer engineered to identify and jam the signal of an electronically-detonated roadside bomb.

Army Weapons Development Strategy:

The Army is developing its weapons, technologies and platforms with a greater emphasis on being ready for great-power, mechanized force-on-force war in order maintain cross-the-board readiness and deter near-peer adversaries from unwanted aggression.

While the service aims to be prepared for any conceivable contingency, to include counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and hybrid-type conflicts, the Army has been shifting its focus from 15-years of counterinsurgency war and pivoting its weapons development toward major-power war.

“We are excellent at counterinsurgency,” Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson, Military Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, told Scout Warrior in an exclusive interview. “We’re developing systems to be prepared for the full range of potential conflict.”

As a high-level leader for the Army’s weapons, vehicle and platform developmental efforts, Williamson explained that some technologies are specifically being engineered with a mind toward positioning the service for the prospect of massive great-power conflict; this would include combat with mechanized forces, armored vehicles, long-range precision weapons, helicopter air support and what’s called a Combined Arms Maneuver approach.

Combined Arms Maneuver tactics use a variety of combat assets, such as artillery, infantry and armored vehicles such as tanks, in a synchronized, integrated fashion to overwhelm, confuse and destroy enemies.

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December 14, 2016
8:58 PM
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New Wireless Sights Show U.S. Soldiers Exactly Where Their Machine Gun Fire Will Hit

http://www.popularmechanics.co.....-wireless/

 

The U.S. Army will begin production on a new generation of weapon sights designed to allow soldiers to engage the enemy while staying under cover. The Family of Weapon Sights—Crew Served (FWS-CS) program links troops to heavy weapons with wireless technology.

FWS-CS is a long-wave infrared night vision scope that is installed on a M2 .50 caliber machine gun, Mk. 19 grenade machine gun, or M240 machine gun. The scope is boresighted to the weapon, meaning aligned with the weapon's barrel. The Army has been installing night vision scopes on guns for a long time, so that part isn't a big deal.

 

The big deal is that the scope has a 12-micro thermal and high-definition day camera wirelessly linked to a helmet-mounted display worn by the gunner. The display projects onto the wearer's field of vision showing where the bullets—or grenades—will impact.

The result is that soldiers can acquire and engage targets much more quickly. Instead of looking down the sights of the gun and adjusting, they can get a good grip on the weapon, use the reticle to zero in on the enemy, and open fire. The sight also has a zoom capability, which will aid in identifying a target at long ranges.

Projectiles such as bullets and grenades gradually lose velocity at longer ranges, as gravity inevitably takes over. At 1,200 yards, for example, a .50 caliber bullet drops 86 inches due to gravity. At shorter ranges—say, 500 yards—the difference in elevation between the barrel of the gun and the sight means the bullets will strike about too 86 inches too high. You can see where the problem lies. Both distances are greater than the height of the average person, so it's entirely possible to miss your target if you're not careful.

FWS-CS, on the other hand, uses a laser rangefinder to instantly calculate the distance to the target and whether or not to adjust the shooter's aim up or down. Thanks to the infrared sight, it is equally accurate in day or night conditions.

Yet another advantage: the wireless aspect means the soldier doesn't have to position himself directly behind the gun to fire. After all, if the gun can shoot at the enemy, the enemy can shoot at the gun—and the shooter behind it. It is entirely possible that, so long as he or she has a good grip on the weapon, the shooter can actually duck down behind cover or inside an armored vehicle and pull the trigger, relying on the helmet mounted display to aim.

FWS-CS was scheduled to be in the Engineering and Manufacturing Phase between January and March of this year, and should enter the Production and Deployment Phase—where it actually reaches the troops—very soon.

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January 21, 2017
1:06 AM
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Here It Is: Your New Army Handgun

http://kitup.military.com/2017.....ndgun.html

 

LAS VEGAS — A day after news broke here at SHOT Show that Sig Sauer had won a $580 million contract to make the Army's next service pistol, beating out three other competitors, the company has released the first images of the winning gun.

The weapon replacing the M9 9mm handgun is Sig Sauer's popular P320 model, a polymer striker-fired pistol first released in 2014. According to an announcement released this morning, the Army’s Modular Handgun System program provides for delivery of full-sized and compact P320s. Regardless of size, all the handguns will be equipped with threaded barrels to receive silencers and will include standard and extended-capacity magazines, according to the announcement.

While the P320 has a modular design that can be adjusted for frame size and caliber between 9mm, .357SIG and .40SGW, a source with knowledge of the competition process told Military.com the Army selected the 9mm version of the gun. That has yet to be officially confirmed by Sig Sauer or the Army.

All the new handguns will be manufactured at Sig Sauer facilities in New Hampshire and will be delivered to the Army over a period of 10 years, according to the announcement.

Multiple sources said the competition was whittled from four competitors to two in December, eliminating FN America and Beretta and narrowing the field to Sig Sauer and Glock. It remains to be seen whether Glock, which sources say submitted its Glock .17 and Glock .19 9mm pistols for competition, will protest the contract award.

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January 30, 2017
8:07 PM
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An Enormous Crack Just Opened Up In The Middle Of The Arizona Desert

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tr.....d284a32b08

The Arizona Geological Survey is monitoring a 2-mile long crack that has opened up in the Arizona desert. Recent drone flights over the crack reveal that it has continued to grow both in length and width in Pinal County, to the southeast of Phoenix.

Scientists are actively monitoring the crack and took drone video of the extent of the fissure as normal documentation of an area prone to large cracks in the Earth. The northern portion of the crack is older and partially filled in by eroding sediment and from collapse of the crack's edges. Meanwhile, the southern portion remains 25 to 30 feet deep and 10 feet across. The fissure tapers out toward each edge but the southern edge continues to grow in length and widen.

The crack was first noticed in 2014 during a review of Google Earth images across the landscape to look for abnormal features. This prompted the Arizona Geological Survey to visit the site and measure the length, width, and depth of the massive fissure. They noticed the size was significantly larger than what appeared in the Google Earth imagery and had grown to almost 2 miles long. The crack had grown significantly due to local heavy rains that enhanced erosion and collapse of the overlying sediment to reveal the underground fissure.

The fissure is a surface expression of a larger open void underground, which ultimately is a result of desiccation due to aquifer drawdown from local populations and agriculture. Agriculture in the region relies on drawdown of the underlying porous sandstone aquifers for potable water. This, in turn, causes significant compaction of sediment that was otherwise held up by water in the sediment pore spaces. After decades of aquifer depletion, the underlying sedimentary rocks eventually fail and cause fissures or cracks to appear both in the subsurface and surface of the Earth.

This region of the United States is prone to cracks developed from extensive groundwater usage. Specifically, cracks form along the margins of subsidence areas and along nearby mountain fronts, where more competent rock is not prone to collapse. The Arizona Geological Survey actively measures 26 study areas of fissures and have mapped a combined 170 miles of fissures in the region.

Geologists with the Arizona Geological Survey expect the crack to continue to grow at the southern extent. They expect the underground extent of the fissure is significantly larger than the surface expression seen by the drone footage. Thankfully the crack is in the middle of the desert and likely not a harm to humans as long as no one attempts to walk or drive up to the crack. However, the crack could cause harm to local cattle that may use the area for grazing.

Trevor Nace is a geologist, Forbes contributor, and adventurer. Follow him on Twitter @trevornace

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February 12, 2017
2:12 PM
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US will take two years to bring military repair and readiness back up and then will begin a 20% military buildup over 15-30 years

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2.....bring.html

 

According to the US Navy, 53 percent of all Navy aircraft can’t fly — about 1,700 combat aircraft, patrol, and transport planes and helicopters. Not all are due to budget problems — at any given time, about one-fourth to one-third of aircraft are out of service for regular maintenance. But the 53 percent figure represents about twice the historic norm.

The strike fighter situation is even more acute and more remarkable since the aircraft are vitally important to projecting the fleet’s combat power. Sixty-two percent of F/A-18s are out of service; 27 percent in major depot work; and 35 percent simply awaiting maintenance or parts, the Navy said.

With training and flying hour funds cut, the Navy’s aircrews are struggling to maintain even minimum flying requirements, the senior Navy source said. Retention is becoming a problem, too. In 2013, 17 percent of flying officers declined department head tours after being selected. The percentage grew to 29 percent in 2016.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has laid out a measured and cautious spending plan that puts near-term readiness needs first in his first budget guidance memo. The memo, out this morning, largely defers major equipment modernization until 2019 and limits increases in the size of the force to “the maximum responsible rate” So, while Trump may yet launch a Reaganesque build-up of the military, the memo makes clear that it won’t start right away. It’s also explicit that, alongside straight additions to the budget, there will be "efficiencies" and cuts.

According to testimony, the Navy is the smallest and least prepared it’s been in 99 years.

The Navy has requested an additional $12 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters, one San Antonio-class amphibious landing dock ship, and dozens more Sidewinder missiles.

Gen. Daniel Allyn, the Army's vice chief of staff, said that only three of the Army's more than 50 brigade combat teams have all the troops, training and equipment needed to fight at a moment's notice.

The Marine Corps, which wants an additional $4.2 billion added to its 2017 budget, warned that the "nation's force in readiness" will have to continue shifting money intended for new weapons to pay current bills.

The Air Force is the branch of the military that arguably is in the most dire straits, with aircraft numbers falling from 8,600 in 1991 to 5,500 today. There are 55 fighter squadrons, down from 134, and less than 50 percent of its combat forces are "sufficiently ready for a highly contested fight against peer adversaries," Air Force Vice Chief Gen. Stephen W. Wilson said in reference to countries like Russia and China.

Pro-defense lawmakers still want the build-up, but they acknowledge it’s going to take years, if not decades. For example, legislators have asked the Congressional Budget Office to study alternative spending plans to build a 355-ship Navy over 15, 20, 25, or 30 years, the new House seapower subcommittee chairman.

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February 14, 2017
10:44 PM
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UH-60V Black Hawk completes first flight

http://www.upi.com/Defense-New.....487000492/

 

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army and industry partner Northrop Grumman completed the first flight of the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.

The UH-60V features upgrades from the Army's UH-60L configuration, including digital cockpit enhancements. The Army contracted Northrop Grumman to perform the upgrades for the aircraft in 2014.

"This UH-60V first flight accomplishment reaffirms our open, safe and secure cockpit solutions that will enable the most advanced capabilities for warfighters," Northrop Grumman mission solutions vice president Ike Song said in a press release. "We remain committed to delivering an affordable, low-risk solution that provides long-term value and flexibility to customers."

The UH-60V Black Hawk's digital cockpit is fitted with the Future Airborne Capability Environment standard, allowing integration of new avionics equipment in the future.

The upgrade program aims to modernize the Army's UH-60L helicopter fleet. The package replaces UH-60L analogue gauges with electronic equipment displays. In addition to extending the service life for the platform, Northrop Grumman says the upgrades decrease workload for pilots, enhance situational awareness, and improve interoperability.

The UH-60V upgrade is based on the AH-1Z and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye enhancements performed for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.

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