Sunday, September 14, 2008

U.S. Fades Away In Europe

U.S. Fades Away In Europe (NSI News Source Info) September 14, 2008: After spending over half a century years in Europe, the headquarters of the U.S. 7th Army headquarters is reorganizing as a deployable unit (meaning it can be ordered to another part of the world to supervise major military operations.) The 7th Army headquarters ceased to be very mobile as it commanded a growing force of European based U.S. combat units in the 1950s. But this force went from two corps and over six divisions (18 combat brigades) during the Cold War, to the current four brigades (which are also subject to duty in distant combat zones, like Iraq or Afghanistan). During the Cold War, there were over 300,000 U.S. troops in Western Europe, now it's about 40,000, and headed for 33,000 in five years. And if there's a crises somewhere else on the planet, there won't even be an army headquarters there to command what's left of American forces.

DARPA Eyes Cheaper, Greener Fuel from Coal

DARPA Eyes Cheaper, Greener Fuel from Coal
(NSI News Source Info) September 14, 2008: The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has unveiled an "aggressive" program to demonstrate economical and environmentally friendly conversion of coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuels. DARPA has issued a broad agency announcement (BAA) soliciting research proposals and plans to award 12-month contracts totaling $4.56 million to demonstrate the feasibility of alternative coal to liquid (CTL) technologies. Already investigating biofuels, the agency says its CTL program is intended to demonstrate processes that could meet Defense Department demand for JP-8 jet fuel from U.S. coal reserves at a cost-competitive price compared with petroleum-based fuels. DARPA says existing direct and indirect coal liquefaction processes are "extremely expensive to implement, consume large amounts of water and produce unacceptable amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants." Indeed, several lawmakers have noted the potential greenhouse gas consequences and in recent years and demurred on coal lobbyists' initial efforts at pushing friendly legislation (Aerospace DAILY, May 5, 2007). The indirect method of producing CTL fuels is to first gasify the coal then convert it to hydrocarbon fuel using Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Each kilogram of coal converted uses a kilogram of water and produces 1.3 kg of CO2 and 0.27 kg of oil, says DARPA. Using existing technologies, DARPA says, a 100,000 barrel per day (bpd.) CTL plant will cost $6 billion to build, four-times that of a similar-capacity crude oil refinery, while the end-user fuel cost is expected to exceed $4.50/gal. DARPA's goals for its CTL program equate to a capital cost of less than $1.5 billion for a 100,000bpd plant with zero CO2 emissions, less than $3/gal for JP-8 jet fuel, and less than 0.5 kg. of water consumed for every kilogram of coal converted . Because of their environmental impact, the agency says "incremental improvements to existing Fischer-Tropsch or other existing CTL technologies are not appropriate for consideration" under its demonstration program. Fuels from coal produce 80 percent more CO2 than petroleum-based fuel, but DARPA believes CTL concepts may exist that avoid the production of CO2. The need for water as a source of hydrogen is also an issue with existing methods. As a result, new CTL processes "should consider utilizing the hydrogen available in the coal feedstock, alternative hydrogen sources, and/or recycling part of the water consumed during the process," according to the BAA.

Russian Subs to Test Fire Missiles in Pacific

Russian Subs to Test Fire Missiles in Pacific (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 14, 2008: Russian submarines armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles will test fire their rockets in the Pacific Ocean between Sept. 15 and 20, a military official was quoted as saying on Sept. 12. "Some missile launches will be carried out in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea" and will hit targets on the Kamchatka peninsula in eastern Russia, said the unidentified official, RIA Novosti news agency reported. A press officer for the governor of Kamchatka, a mountainous region often used for missile tests, told RIA Novosti that local authorities had been forewarned and would inform the local population in due course. Russia's Pacific Fleet, which will carry out the tests, has Delfin nuclear submarines equipped with RSM-54 intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach targets as far as 8,300 kilometers (5,157 miles) away.

Type Acceptance for Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon

Type Acceptance for Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon (NSI News Source Info) HALLBERGMOOS, Germany - September 14, 2008: Following the successful flight tests and the full delivery of the associated documentation, Type Acceptance for Block 8 (Tranche 2) Eurofighter Typhoon weapon systems has been agreed between Eurofighter GmbH and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA). Commenting on the achievement, Aloysius Rauen, Eurofighter CEO, stated: "2008 is proving to be a decisive year for the programme. Block 8 Type Acceptance represents a further major landmark, achieved through strong industry/customer co-operation, and one that will maintain the delivery continuity of Eurofighter Typhoon to the Air Forces." With customer agreement in place, the deliveries to the Air Forces can now proceed. There are some 60 Block 8 aircraft already in final assembly across the partner companies, the first Block 8 Production Flight Acceptance Tests (PFATs) for some of these already began in summer. The main difference between Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft is the new suite of computers. More processing power (speed and memory capacity) will be the enabler for future capability insertion. All Tranche 2 weapon systems will eventually go through the Phase One Enhancements programme, agreed in March 2007, which covers: -- New software -- Enhanced multi-role Man-Machine Interface (MMI) -- "Full" Laser Designator Pod (LDP) integration -- Enhancements to MIDS, GPS, DASS, Communications -- Additional weapons: Paveway IV; EGBU-16 Eurofighter Typhoon is the world's most advanced new generation multi-role/swing-role combat aircraft available on the market and has been ordered by six nations (Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Austria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). With 707 aircraft under contract, it is Europe's largest military collaborative programme and delivers leading-edge technology, strengthening Europe's aerospace industry in the global competition. More than 100,000 jobs in 400 companies are secured by the programme. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH manages the programme on behalf of the Eurofighter Partner Companies Alenia Finmeccanica, BAE Systems, EADS CASA and EADS Deutschland, Europe's foremost aerospace companies with a total turnover of EUR 60.7 billion (2006).