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News Briefs

Disaster Recovery Exercise Covers the Bases

July 17, 2009

A major disaster recovery exercise is concluding today in Washington D.C. The week long event was held by AT&T to test, evaluate, refine and improve how the company restores communications in the wake of a natural or manmade disaster. The network disaster recovery (NDR) exercise filled the capitol's Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with equipment trailers and personnel providing satellite and broadband fiber optic communications links.

Held several times a year, this is the 54th and largest field NDR exercise conducted by AT&T, says Mark Francis, vice president of the company's Global Network Operations Center in Bedminster, New Jersey. The company gathered more than 45 disaster recovery trailers and vehicles, including 28 tractor trailers, two emergency communications vehicles, four hazmat trailers, one satellite cell on light truck (COLT), and five smaller utility and support trailers.

During a disaster recovery, Francis explains that the company's strategy is to set up equipment in a large open area such as a stadium. All of the equipment forms the core of an AT&T regional office. The trailers can replace the fiber optic backbone equipment in an office and replace the central network. He notes that one of the goals of this exercise was to test high speed optical transport equipment operating at 40 gigabytes per second. The event also sets up mobile cellular communications systems for first responders.

NSPS Review Group Announces Public Meetings

June 17, 2009

The Defense Business Board task group created to review the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) will hold public meetings next week at the Hyatt-Arlington in Arlington, Virginia. The group will invite experts who have testified before Congress on the NSPS to the first event and will listen to select members of the public for additional information about previously submitted written comments at the second. The public can attend and provide comments until June 26, but those received after June 18 (that's tomorrow!) may not arrive in time for consideration.

Data Upgrades for Old Warbirds

June 17, 2009

The U.S. Air Force's venerable fleet of B-52 Stratofortress bombers is joining the network-centric force. They are being outfitted with the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) system, which will provide the aircraft with enhanced situational awareness and mission flexibility. The CONECT modification involves the installation of a digital communications infrastructure into the B-52 that enables the aircraft to link to the Air Force's digital communications network and contact command and control centers, ground forces and other platforms. The first aircraft to receive the equipment is undergoing fight tests. All 76 aircraft in the fleet will receive CONECT after the flight test program is complete.

Green UAVs Quietly Fly Forward

April 27, 2009

Ion Tiger, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research program at the Naval Research Laboratory, is merging UAV technology and fuel cell systems that are more efficient and reduce noise. An Office of Naval Research-sponsored program, the Ion Tiger UAV tests a hydrogen-powered fuel cell design that has more endurance in flight distance and payload weight than battery-powered designs. The UAV also features a low heat signature and no emissions. Still in the testing phases, the aircraft's flight trial this spring is expected to deliver results that exceed the duration of previous flights sevenfold: 24 hours with a five-pound payload.

Small Business to Receive Big Boost

April 24, 2009

The U.S. Air Force is redoubling its efforts to reach out to small businesses. David Van Buren, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, and Ronald Poussard, director of the service's small business programs, explain that this effort seeks to remove the "check-the-box" mentality often associated with small business outreach. Innovation, agility, responsiveness and efficiency are some of the attributes small companies offer, but Van Buren also says, "We don't have enough competition now. Growing these innovative small businesses will help us rectify that by increasing the industrial base." The service plans to enhance its relationship with small businesses by helping them move into the more mature states of development and production.

Airborne Robot Command and Control

April 21, 2009

The Boeing Company and the Australian government demonstrated the ability to simultaneously command and control three robot aircraft from an airborne command platform. The demonstration featured three ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) controlled from a Royal Australian Air Force Wedgetail 737 airborne early warning and control aircraft. Operating 120 miles from the Wedgetail, the ScanEagles were assigned tasks such as area search, reconnaissance, point surveillance and targeting. The aircraft demonstrated extended sensing; persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and the transmission of real-time video imagery of ground targets.

Air Force Announces Preferred Location for Command

April 18, 2009

U.S. Air Force officials named Barksdale Air Force Base as the preferred alternative for the location of the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) headquarters. The AFGSC is a new major command focused on the nuclear and global strike mission. A final decision about the permanent headquarters location is expected this summer and will be made after the environmental impact analysis process required by law is complete. The selection of Barksdale was based on the base's ability to provide nuclear mission synergy as well as its facilities and infrastructure, support capacity, transportation and access, communications and bandwidth, and security capabilities

Venue Enables FCS Teamwork

April 17, 2009

An innovative environment will support a virtual collaborative zone within the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The FCS Advanced Collaborative Environment (FCS ACE) is a secure Web environment that enables government and industry participants to work together and access product, technical and program management information. A $4.3 million contract win allows Alion Science and Technology to help streamline and improve business processes and control investment costs for FCS ACE's entire life cycle.

New Satellite Support for Unmanned Vehicles

April 16, 2009

Commercial satellite support for U.S. military forces in the Middle East and Asia is being boosted by an Intelsat orbiter that is being moved halfway around the world to cover the region. The international satellite consortium, responding to a U.S. Defense Department request in February, is repositioning its Galaxy 26 U.S. domestic satellite from its 93°W slot over the Western Hemisphere to a new location over the Indian Ocean. The Galaxy 26 orbiter will provide vital bandwidth for unmanned aerial vehicles conducting surveillance operations throughout its area of coverage, which ranges from Germany to Southeast Asia. The Defense Department awarded a contract to Intelsat via Artel Incorporated as part of its Defense Information Systems Network Satellite Transmission Services-Global (DSTS-G) contract.

Army Fields Advanced Night Vision

April 15, 2009

The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Soldier delivered 300 sets of the AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggles (ENVG) to the 10th Mountain Division, the first unit other than special forces to receive them. The ENVG incorporates image intensification and long-wave infrared sensors into a single integrated system. It has a thermal camera that increases mobility and situational awareness regardless of light, weather or battlefield conditions, and it offers faster threat recognition. The ENVG's compatibility with current aiming lasers enables a fully integrated system of thermal, laser and image intensification. A digital update for the ENVG is in development. With that, soldiers will be able to import and export digital files.

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