Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
January 26, 2015

Report: Upgrades Required for Army Networking Gear

Defense News reports that “the US Army is looking for connections, but it got little love from the Pentagon’s top test and evaluation agency over its radio and networking gear, which faulted their glitches in its annual report released Tuesday.”

“The report, from Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), indicates that one of the Army’s main acquisition priorities, while showing signs of improvement, is not ready for prime time. The report covers assessments over the last year, providing snapshots of the Army network modernization effort’s developmental and technical snafus.”

“Such glitches won’t necessarily doom a program. Ultimately, the Army and Office of the Secretary of Defense will have to ask, ‘does the program have value and benefit for soldiers and commanders,’ said retired Lt. Gen. William Phillips, the former military deputy to the Army’s acquisition executive.”

Exit Nearing, Hagel Warns of Military Power Limits

Stars and Stripes reports that “as he prepares to hand over the reins of the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is warning that military power has its limits and Americans should avoid believing that force alone can transform conflict-riven societies in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

“’It is easy to drift into other missions, and I do believe that you always have to ask the tough questions, [such as] what happens next? Where do you want this to end up,’ Hagel said in an interview with Stars and Stripes and Military Times. ‘Any secretary of defense has to always be on guard that we don’t inadvertently sometimes drift into a more accelerated use than we thought of what our military was going to be [doing] … I think the two long wars that we were in the last 13 years is pretty clear evidence of … how things can get out of control, and drift and wander.’”

“Hagel’s warning came as the U.S. military has returned to Iraq — this time to help the Iraqi government defeat the Islamic State which has seized about a third of Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Central Command is conducting an air campaign against the militants, and about 1,550 U.S. troops have been sent to Iraq to train and advise government and Kurdish peshmerga forces. Another 800 troops are providing force protection.”

Duke Basketball Star to be Sworn into U.S. Army

The Duke Chronicle reports that “Duke center Marshall Plumlee will commit to donning a new uniform Friday—that of the red, white and blue.”

“Plumlee, a student in Duke’s ROTC program, will take part in a contracting ceremony before Duke’s practice Friday afternoon, which will effectively serve as his swearing-in to the U.S. Army, effective upon graduation.”

“David Behm, recruiting and operations officer for the Duke Department of Military Science, said the ceremony acts as a written agreement on the part of the student to accept a commission upon graduation.”

Ready, Set, Seek: US Navy Approves F/A-18 Super Hornet Infrared Search and Track System

The F/A-18 Super Hornet infrared search and track (IRST) system, developed and integrated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, received approval from the U.S. Navy to enter low-rate initial production.

An F/A-18 Super Hornet prepares for landing during flight testing. Lockheed Martin photo

An F/A-18 Super Hornet prepares for landing during flight testing.
Lockheed Martin photo

The IRST system consists of Lockheed Martin’s IRST21™ sensor, the GE Aviation FPU-13 Fuel Tank Assembly and the Meggitt Defense Industry Environmental Control unit. The system demonstrated its production readiness through a series of extensive assessments and reviews, including flight tests.

The long –range sensor IRST21 sensor uses infrared search and track technology to detect, track and enable the Super Hornet to engage threats with air-to-air weapons.

“This ‘see first, strike first’ capability can be used in a variety of threat environments and is a game changer for our warfighters as we combat future adversaries,” said U.S. Navy F/A-18 program manager Capt. Frank Morley.

In addition to detecting airborne threats, IRST significantly enhances multiple target resolution compared to radar, providing greater discrimination of threat formations at longer ranges. Data from the IRST21 sensor is fused with other on-board F/A-18 sensor data to provide maximum situational awareness to the warfighter.

IRST is expected to deploy on the F/A-18 Super Hornet in 2017.

U.S. Military Increases Security at European Bases

Reuters reports that “the U.S. military has ordered increased security at facilities across Europe in the wake of the Paris attacks, but officials on Thursday described it as a precautionary step and said there was no intelligence about any specific threat.”

“The Pentagon declined to detail the kinds of measures being rolled out as part of the ‘additional force protection measures and random security enhancements’ announced by the U.S. military’s European Command.”

“Such measures could include anything from random searches of individuals entering bases to deploying additional personnel to staff military checkpoints.”

Congress: VA ‘Blasted on Construction Failures

Stars and Stripes reports that “in the latest black eye for the Department of Veterans Affairs, congressman grilled officials Wednesday over construction mismanagement that has cost the department hundreds of millions of dollars in overruns and delayed major projects by years.”

“’It’s long past time for these projects, marred by bureaucratic ineptitude, to be complete,’ House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said during a hearing on VA construction problems.”

“The hearing was prompted by several recent flaps over major projects, including a new VA medical center in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo., where a contractor walked off the project after major delays and hundreds of millions in cost overruns. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that, on average, the largest VA projects were three years late and $376 million over budget.”

Navy Sends Next-Generation Military Communications Satellite to Orbit

Space.com reports that “a huge satellite blasted off Tuesday night in a dazzling launch for a mission to help improve the U.S. military’s tactical communications capabilities.”

“The U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System-3 satellite, or MUOS-3, streaked into orbit during a spectacular night launch of an Atlas V rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:04 p.m. EST (0104 GMT on Jan. 21). MUOS-3 will eventually maneuver to geosynchronous orbit, about 22,000 miles (35,400 kilometers) above Earth.”

“As its name suggests, the 7.5-ton (6,800 kilograms) MUOS-3 is the third Mobile User Objective System spacecraft to reach orbit. MUOS-1 and MUOS-2 launched in February 2012 and July 2013, respectively, also atop Atlas V rockets.”

Mighty B-52 Bomber Now with GPS-Guided Weapons in Bay

Across from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City sits a wealth of engineering expertise on the B-52 Stratofortress – the Air Force bomber that has been a symbol of American might for more than five decades. The close proximity to Tinker has helped Boeing’s engineers partner with the Air Force in the latest upgrade to the B-52 bomber.

Engineers have developed and built three prototypes for a new weapons launcher to be equipped in the weapons bay of the B-52, and close cooperation with the U.S. Air Force allowed all three prototypes to be delivered ahead-of-schedule.

In December, the U.S. Air Force and Boeing successfully installed the first prototype of the new launcher to transform the B-52 weapons bay enabling deployment of GPS-guided “smart” weapons for the first time. The new launcher also increases weapons capacity, providing crew members with greater flexibility to adapt to changing conditions on the ground.

Military crews will continue field testing the new launcher prototypes at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. until March, when flight tests commence.

Check out this video on the latest technology to upgrade the weapons bay and expand B-52 capabilities:

3-D Printing Coming to U.S. Military

Daily Finance reports that “With patents expiring, intellectual property declining, crowdfunded projects drawing attention and competition heating up, many in the 3-D print industry believe that 2015 will be a breakout year. Printer sales are expected to double in 2015 to more than 217,000. One industry already making strides in 3-D printing is the military.”

Areas of potential action include:

  • Food
  • Skin
  • Weaponry and Equipment

The piece continues: “And then there’s 4-D printed objects, which can change when printing is complete.”

“While 4-D printing could theoretically change various landscapes of the military, one aspect garnering much of the public and media attention is personnel uniforms. Adaptive uniforms adjust to changing surroundings. Could 4-D printed uniforms also protect people from shrapnel, debris and bullets?”

 

Military Ready to Help U.S. Embassy in Yemen

ABC News reports that “with the worsening security situation in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, the U.S. military has moved two Navy amphibious ships into the Red Sea to assist with any potential evacuation of U.S. embassy personnel should the State Department order its personnel to leave the country, Pentagon officials said today.”

“The U.S. embassy there remains open as of now.”

“A State Department spokesperson told ABC News that officials are ‘continuing to closely monitor developments in Yemen and will adjust the embassy’s security posture response in accordance to the situation on the ground.'”

Pentagon Nominee Made Paid Appearances

“Since leaving as the Pentagon’s second-ranking official over a year ago, Secretary of Defense nominee Ashton B. Carter earned over $100,000 from private appearances before high-profile Wall Street firms, technology investors, and defense labs, according to disclosure forms,” the Boston Globe reports.

“Carter, a longtime Harvard scholar, defense consultant, and top Pentagon official whose Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for next month, also earned $120,000 last year as a consultant to the Markle Foundation, which has a stated mission of ‘leveraging technology and advancing public and private leadership.’ Carter served on the foundation’s task force on national security along with leading academics, government officials, and corporate leaders.”

“Carter’s confirmation as the next secretary of defense is widely predicted to get bipartisan support. If he is confirmed, he has agreed to resign two private-sector positions: as an adviser for computer technology companies Box Inc. and Palo Alto Networks Inc.”

SHARCs on the Prowl in Pacific Ocean

It might look like you could ride the waves with Liquid Robotics’ SHARC, but don’t try to hang ten off this board – it moves at only three knots. Instead, the device, produced by Boeing partner Liquid Robotics at their Sunnyvale, Calif. facility, is an ocean-based unmanned vehicle used for observation, data collection and monitoring.

The SHARC connects intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities provided by Boeing assets ranging from satellites, manned aircraft, UAVs like the ScanEagle and sub-surface crafts, providing broad-area, continuous maritime surveillance.  In 2014, Boeing and Liquid Robotics signed a multi-year agreement to enhance the unmanned marine vessel’s capabilities. Ultimately, the collaboration will develop total integrated solutions for anti-submarine warfare and other maritime defense applications, offering the customer communications and sensing from seabed to space.

The SHARC is the militarized version of Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider system that uses both wave power and solar energy to propel the craft through challenging ocean conditions. This makes it ideally suited to operate in high currents, hurricanes and other weather conditions in which using a manned vehicle would be unsafe or otherwise not possible.

This video shows how SHARCs maneuver through ocean waters to provide this “seabed to space” information connection.

Obama Says Military Power Isn’t Enough in Trouble Spots

President Obama “claimed several national security successes during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, defiantly doubling down on his belief that military power alone is insufficient,” Defense News reports.

“Republican lawmakers and analysts spent most of Tuesday hammering Obama’s policies on Russia, the Islamic State and Afghanistan, arguing the commander in chief’s approach has left the United States — and its allies — vulnerable to attacks and with less sway on the global stage.”

“The commander in chief made no mention of striking a fiscal deal that would nix or lessen the remaining years of across-the-board defense — or domestic — budget cuts, a potential signal the White House has given up hopes of such an accord with congressional Republicans.”

Defense One: “From the new U.S. role in Afghanistan to renewed tensions with Russia, from the rise of militant extremism in Iraq and Syria to the attacks on the streets of Paris, the threat of terrorism and global conflict is no shadow, but a grim and tangible reality facing Obama in the last two years of his presidency.”

Future: Sensors to Allow Soldiers to Better Share Information

The U.S. Defense Department’s Armed with Science blog reports that “the Army envisions a future where sensors dynamically interact with each other while sharing information with soldiers. Its researchers are one step closer to enabling this common operating environment through the development of a foundational software architecture.”

“The Integrated Sensor Architecture, known as ISA, establishes standards that bring together sensors within an area of operation so they can talk without requiring physical integration.”

“’You have this fundamental architecture enabling sensors to not only recognize the systems they want to interact with, but to also broker the information exchanges,’ said Joe Durek, deputy director for the Modeling and Simulation Division of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate.”

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