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News Briefs

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.

Data Fusion for Attack Helicopters

April 6, 2009

U.S. Army attack helicopters operating in Southwest Asia now can receive video and data from unmanned aerial platforms, enhancing situational awareness and reducing sensor-to-shooter times. The Video from Unmanned Aerial Systems for Interoperability Teaming-Level 2 (VUITTM-2) capability provides the crews of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters with real-time streaming video and metadata shown on multipurpose displays. The VUITTM-2 can transmit both Apache and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) video via a mini-tactical common datalink to troops equipped with One System Remote Video Terminals. Army officials explain that the capability enables Apache aircrews to stream imagery to ground units such as Stryker vehicles on combat patrols. The real-time video provides immediate intelligence so that commanders can plan safer alternate routes. The live UAS data also allows Apache crews to locate and engage time-critical targets quickly. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corporation, the VUITTM-2 was designed and fielded in less than seven months as part of a rapid fielding request from the U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff.

Army Modifies Radar Systems

April 5, 2009

The U.S. Army is enhancing its mobile ground-based radars designed to detect incoming enemy artillery rounds. The AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder weapon-locating radar is a long-range system that is being deployed across the service to locate the sources of enemy mortar, artillery and rocket fire, and to relay that data for counterfire by friendly units. As part of the Army's Reliability Maintainability Improvement (RMI) program, the entire inventory of AN/TPQ-37 and AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder systems will be modified with a modular, air-cooled transmitter and new common radar processors. ThalesRaytheonSystems officials, the company that is contracted for the modifications, note that the upgrades will significantly reduce life-cycle costs, provide higher operational availability and extend the radar's expected operational life to the year 2030. The modifications are part of a $285 million production contract.

Navy Sends BAMS to Air Force

April 4, 2009

A U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is part of the joint mission of the U.S. Air Force 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. The new role marks the first operational mission for the BAMS UAS-a maritime derivative of the RQ-4 Global Hawk-although the aircraft has been used in noncombat roles. BAMS' arrival in Southwest Asia is the culmination of more than five months of a joint effort to stand up a maritime surveillance presence in the region. The move came when Navy officials responded to a Defense Department request for more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the area. Air Force personnel will control the system at the forward operating location, and Air Force instructors will train naval aviators. Experts from both military services have come together to create a process to ensure that differences in operational and maintenance rules and standards are identified and resolved quickly.

France Improves Identification Crypto

April 3, 2009

The French navy and air force are adding new encryption technology to their identification friend-or-foe (IFF) systems to reduce the chance of enemy interception and analysis. The new encryption is being applied to more than 1,000 IFF systems equipping the two services. The equipment will help ensure that links between aircraft transponders and ground-based interrogators are not read or corrupted by new interception technologies now appearing in the battlespace. The existing IFF systems receiving the encryption upgrades will be able to respond quickly and reliably in an electronic warfighting environment, company officials say. The French government has awarded a 30 million contract to EADS Defense and Security for the new IFF encryption suite.

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