Saturday, April 14, 2012

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Special Operations Boost Demand For Helicopters

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Special Operations Boost Demand For Helicopters 
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Dan Parsons - National Defense
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 14, 2012: Special operations forces have a dedicated fleet of tricked-out helicopters at their disposal, but as their workload grows, they are increasingly reliant on conventional aircraft to get their jobs done.

A high operational tempo in Afghanistan has married conventional and special operations forces like never before, forcing a heightened level of cooperation at all levels, from commanding generals to aircraft pilots and crews.

It wasn’t always so, especially when it came to sharing information and aircraft, according to Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. 

As a combat aviation brigade commander in Afghanistan, Crutchfield was once asked to provide aircraft in support of a special operations mission, he said at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual symposium. 

Seeking information from his special operations counterpart, Crutchfield was turned away because he “didn’t have a need to know.”

“That was not the right answer … telling that to a brigade commander who is supplying the aircraft for you to fly the mission,” he said. “Quite frankly, it pissed me off.”

Now the once-tense relationship has changed, at least from the perspective of Army aviation, which takes the lead on most rotary wing development and acquisitions. At least until the close of the war in Afghanistan, the services will be forced to continue that cooperation. At present, half of all special operations missions flown in that conflict are carried out using conventional aircraft.

“Since 9/11, special operations forces have become increasingly reliant on general-purpose forces to complete [their] mission,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Mangum, commander of Army Special Operations Aviation Command. “We can’t do what we do without the great work our combat aviation brigades are doing  on the battlefield.”

Special operators fly versions of the UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook that are upgraded to fly farther and faster and with better sensor capabilities than  standard aircraft. They also fly the CV-22, a version of the tilt-rotor Osprey operated by Air Force Special Operations Command. 

Both the conventional and special operations versions of the various aircraft are essentially the same when built. All the elite gear for SOF is added after the basic model is manufactured.

“You’re typically going to have improvements like extra fuel capacity, self-protection and additional sensors,” said Douglas Royce, an aerospace analyst with Forecast International. “Generally, it’s stuff that makes the aircraft fly farther and gives it greater situational awareness. But in order to create a special operations version of any aircraft, it takes money. This way, it is much cheaper to adapt an existing design than to develop a new aircraft.”

While many SOF aircraft are similar at the core, for many special operations missions, there are technologies required that are either too expensive or unnecessary for conventional troops. Aircraft flown by Navy SEALs and Marine Corps special operators have to be weatherized to withstand maritime environments, for example. The A/M-H6 Little Bird light attack helicopter was specially designed and is exclusively used by special operations forces. It is too small and expensive to be useful for large-scale operations by conventional forces.

The door swings both ways, however. Conventional ground forces often travel in larger numbers and shorter distances into enemy territory. Therefore it is to their advantage that their helicopters are not weighed down with high-end sensors and unnecessary add-ons like mid-air refueling nozzles. 

Those unique capabilities on the “fringes” of overall helicopter design are where special operations aviation should focus its funding, Mangum said.

One of those SOF-unique equipment packages is the common aviation architecture system, built by Rockwell Collins. The CAAS cockpit will eventually be installed in all special operations Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters. 

In 2001, when Rockwell Collins began working with special operations aviation, there were five different cockpit configurations in Chinooks and Blackhawks, said Daniel Toy, principal marketing manager for rotary wing systems for Rockwell Collins. The diversity of systems created logistical difficulties for forces that were, by definition, supposed to travel light and remain nimble. 

With the installation of the CAAS cockpit, SOF aircraft are being upgraded and standardized simultaneously. The equipment provides an unprecedented level of interoperability while reducing logistics costs, according to Toy.

Chinooks are either newly manufactured or recapitalized by Boeing, at which point the specialized cockpit and other SOF-specific components are added. Blackhawks are delivered directly to the Army, in which case Rockwell Collins sends its equipment to an Army depot, where it is installed.

“The multi-function displays in their Chinooks are the exact same as the displays in their Blackhawks,” Toy said. “They’re interchangeable. The software recognizes which aircraft it’s in and reconfigures itself automatically.”

With the upgraded aircraft, SOF can deploy with a mixed detachment of aircraft and only have the need for a single set of common cockpit components. 

The scheme is typical of how special forces in all services retrofit their aircraft, including the most secretive projects that don’t show up on budget documents. The stealth helicopters used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden were developed under such a cloak. The equipment that went into those aircraft has been speculated upon but not confirmed, said Royce. Still, the stealth aircraft were not newly developed platforms, but modified versions of the Blackhawk and Chinook.

“But that was in the black budget,” said Royce. “It is possible that they are continuing to develop these super-secret aircraft under that cover, but we’ll never know about it. Because the black budget is so big, it’s possible for them to have these sorts of programs.”

Even the portions of SOF’s budget that the public is privy to are getting a boost where rotorcraft are concerned.
In an effort to meet demand for SOF aviation and in anticipation of a future U.S. military strategy that relies heavily on special operations, the command’s fiscal year 2013 budget request includes increases in nearly every rotary wing line item.

Of a total aviation procurement budget of $761 million, more than half will go to rotary wing platforms. That $475 million will buy 16 MH-60M Blackhawks, bringing the total production to 62 platforms. It also calls for procurement of seven MH-47 Chinooks and four CV-22’s, for a total fleet strength of 48 for that aircraft.

Rotary wing upgrade and sustainment jumped by nearly 100 percent from $41.4 million in fiscal 2012 to a $74.8 million request for the current fiscal year. Flight operations funding, which is a portion of the overseas contingency operations budget, also increased by $195 million to more than $1.1 billion for fiscal 2013. Though that total includes fixed-wing aircraft and funding for unmanned aerial vehicles, it is an indication of the high demand placed on special operations aviation in Central Asia. 

Research and development did take a hit in 2013, however. That line item fell by more than half, from $51.1 million in fiscal 2012 to a requested $24.4 million in the current fiscal year. 

In all, the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review supports 165 tilt-rotor and fixed-wing mobility and fire support aircraft. It calls for the addition of a company of upgraded Chinooks to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and two dedicated helicopter squadrons for direct support to naval special warfare units.

But all of that procurement is still within the realm of traditional helicopter technology that is often deemed slow and dangerous. The only new-start platform in the past 25 years in the special operations’ inventory is the CV-22 Osprey. 

Looking to the future, aviation commanders from both conventional and special operations aviation are putting their heads together to develop the future vertical lift platform — a revolutionary technology that will begin to replace existing helicopter fleets by 2030.

The Army, on behalf of all services that use vertical-lift aircraft, leads that ongoing development effort. For the first time, a special operations aviator is working directly with Army aviation leaders to ensure the final product is a common airframe that can be used by both SOF and conventional forces with minimal retooling.

“We’re not developing a special operations aircraft and a conventional aircraft,” said Crutchfield, who oversees FVL. 

The aircraft that results from that program should be designed to ferry special operators deeper and faster while keeping them safer than any aircraft available today. It will likely also differ slightly from the versions of FVL used by conventional forces, but as cooperation between the two groups continues to mature, the differences should diminish, he said. There is the added difficulty that it will be required to be as aerodynamic as possible, meaning that its systems and weapons will be designed into the aircraft itself. The current practice of bolting new systems and weapons to the outside of the aircraft likely won’t be an option. 

No one yet knows what the aircraft will look like — whether it will be an advanced helicopter, a tilt-rotor or have a hybrid fixed-wing/rotary wing design. The Army is looking at all three possibilities, aided in research and development by several companies, including Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin. It plans to build two test aircraft by 2017.

Whatever the result, it will amplify the effectiveness of special operations, said Mangum. 

“The speed and lift of that FVL will provide us will be an absolute game changer,” he said. “We will be able to operate over a distributed battlefield where we can cover a huge area with a much smaller force.” 

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Dan Parsons - National Defense
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - RUSSIA DEFENSE NEWS: Russian Air Force To Get Supermaneuverable Aircraft

DTN News - RUSSIA DEFENSE NEWS: Russian Air Force To Get Supermaneuverable Aircraft
*The Russian Air Force has started working on modernizing the domestic military aircraft fleet ahead of the completion of the fifth-generation jet fighter.
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 14, 2012: It has been decided to equip current fighter models with available thrust-vectoring engines. The first batch of upgraded fighters will be handed over to the Air Force by late 2020. It is also planned that all new T-50 fighters will have become operational by then.

“When a plane powered by a regular engine is taken to a wide angle of attack at low speeds, it loses control and stability and starts moving independently of the pilot’s commands, i.e. the plane moves randomly. The Su-35 has perfect controllability at any speed, even at negative speeds, for instance, when the plane drops tail-forward. The pilot can effectively put the plane in any angular position,” Sergei Bogdan, a Su-35 and T-50 test pilot, explained to Izvestiya.

The world’s first thrust-vectoring engine appeared in the export version of the Su-30 meant for India. The first contract for the delivery of such planes was signed more than 10 years ago. India currently operates 150 Su-30 aircrafts and plans to contract the delivery of another 100 machines. Furthermore, Russia supplies Su-30 models powered by these engines to Malaysia and Algeria.

“This is the same Indian version, but it is designed for our Air Forces and has Russian-made avionics. All of the new Su-27 class aircraft will now be powered by thrust-vectoring engines, because since 2011, the Defense Ministry has mostly sought to buy new machines,” a UEC spokesman said. According to him, technically these engines can be installed even in older planes, because they tend to wear faster than the body; however, when the time comes to replace the engines, they will likely install regular engines without vectorable jet nozzles, as the Air Force has plenty in its arsenal. As of now, the planes powered by the new engine are only used at pilot training centers.

Engines with vectorable jet nozzles will also power the MiG-29K carrier-based fighter aircraft, which the Defense Ministry is procuring for the Admiral Kuznetsov, the country’s only aircraft carrier. Klimov Engine Plant is already making these engines for the MiG fighters sold to India under the Admiral Gorshkov contract.

Aircraft designers keep working to perfect the PAK FA T-50, despite the fact that many developed countries have given up on their fifth-generation fighter plans to focus on sixth-generation unmanned aircraft. Experts agree that it would be reasonable to follow suit; however, Russia has neither the money nor time to develop its sixth-generation machines – the Russian aircraft fleet has not been upgraded in more than 20 years.

The T-50 took its maiden flight in January 2010. Completion of the missile systems designed specially for this fighter is scheduled for 2014. Sixty T-50 fighters are expected to be delivered to the Air Forces by 2020.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: The Coming War With China

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: The Coming War With China
*A source close to Chinese military affairs said that China has been promoting the construction of a 93,000-ton atomic-powered carrier under a plan titled the “085 Project.” The nation also has a plan to build a 48,000-ton non-nuclear-powered carrier under the so-called “089 Project,” added the source. China had so far been known to be pushing ahead with construction of a non-nuclear-powered carrier, but not an atomic-powered one.
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Mark Thompson | Time
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 14, 2012: Is China a peaceful nation that only wants to turn out Apple iPads and iPhones? Or is the Middle Kingdom bent on attacking the U.S.? Beijing is the long, and strong, pole in the tent for the U.S. military – and they know it. China is the new Soviet Union, and perhaps it should be.

But is there a downside to view Beijing through such a lens? (Congress has created the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission to track China’s growing clout [remember when the CIA was our chief threat exaggerator?] It also compels the Pentagon to report annually on Chinese military threats [remember when, for good or for ill, we counted on the Defense Intelligence Agency to keep track of such things?])
Do such assessments only create a self-fulfilling prophecy (self-fulfilling prophecy: something that allows the self-licking ice-cream cone, with apologizes to John Cameron Swayze, to keep on licking)? Perhaps not. After all, former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s multi-colored annual editions of Soviet Military Power — which portrayed the Soviet Union as a military superpower during the 1980s as the Pentagon, DIA and CIA missed its internal rot — hardly strengthened the Red Army.
Two contrary views:
In the Chinese government’s China Daily newspaper, Luo Yuan, the executive director and deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Society of Military Science, writes:
Every cent that is spent on the Chinese military is to safeguard its citizens and its territory and help maintain peace. Last year, China spent $75 to protect each of its citizens, and $9.72 to protect each square kilometer of its land. The US on the other hand spent $2,201 to protect each of its citizens and $75.3 to protect each square kilometer of its territory. It is not difficult to see which country is the real threat.
Some have alleged that China’s military budget has outgrown its demand for self-defense, but it should be pointed out that China has never staged any military exercises off the coast of another country or carried out any close reconnaissance of another country. And it is worth remembering that China has never seized a single inch of another country or region’s territory. On the contrary, others are occupying its reefs and isles and plundering its resources. China is justified in spending money on its military to keep its territory intact.
Commentary magazine’s April cover story on the other hand, is all about the coming war with China. Long-time China-watcher Bill Gertz writes:
…the U.S. military [in November took] off the gloves as part of a major war-fighting initiative to counter new Chinese weapons that might succeed in enabling its weaker forces to defeat the United States in a regional war.
The Pentagon will press the defense industry for new ideas, as one defense official put it, “about how to go into China.” Public discussion of [the new Pentagon strategy known as] Air-Sea Battle has been focused largely on operations outside China, such as anti-submarine warfare, mines and countermine warfare, and defending carriers 1,000 miles from Chinese territory. Internal military operations against China under Air Sea Battle will include special forces commando raids on missile forces and bases and, most controversial, covert action and aid to ethnic groups, such as the Uighurs in Xinjiang, anti-regime elements inside Tibet, and ethnic Inner Mongolians seeking to reunite with independent Mongolia.
It’s a safe bet that Luo Yuan’s argument is too benign (no mention of Taiwan or Tiananmen, for example). But it’s fair to suggest that Gertz’s is too menacing (no mention, for example, that nearly everything in every American Walmart is made in China).
We pay the U.S. military to survey the horizon for threats, and prepare to deal with them. China bears watching: its actions makes its neighbors uneasy, and the fate of Taiwan will have to be resolved one way or the other. But, interestingly, as each side focuses on wars that might come, they all seem to erupt in China’s backyard, not ours.
That’s probably a good thing, most Americans would say. But it sure doesn’t look that way to the Chinese.
A source close to Chinese military affairs said on March 27 that China has been promoting the construction of a 93,000-ton atomic-powered carrier under a plan titled the “085 Project.” The nation also has a plan to build a 48,000-ton non-nuclear-powered carrier under the so-called “089 Project,” added the source. China had so far been known to be pushing ahead with construction of a non-nuclear-powered carrier, but not an atomic-powered one.
Once the proposed Chinese carriers are deployed, the radius of the Chinese Navy's range is expected to reach Guam, where a U.S. base is located. Thus, military experts are worried about China's moves prompting an arms race in Northeast Asia.

The dossier said the construction of the nuclear-powered carrier will be completed in 2020. China State Shipbuiling Corp's Jiangnan shipyard located on Changxing Island near Shanghai, will be responsible for its design and construction. The size is similar to former Soviet's unfinished atomic-powered carrier Ulyanovsk, the dossier states. China reportedly secretly purchased the design of Ulyanovsk from Russia. When the nuclear-powered carrier is finished, China will own an aircraft carrier which is on par with the U.S's newest of such vessels, the 97,000-ton atomic-powered USS Ronald Reagan, which recently docked at Busan Port to participate in a joint exercise between the South Korean and U.S. militaries.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Mark Thompson | Time
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - RUSSIA DEFENSE NEWS: State Contract For Borey-Class Submarines Faces Delays

DTN News - RUSSIA DEFENSE NEWS: State Contract For Borey-Class Submarines Faces Delays
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 14, 2012: A contract to build Borey class submarines, the most costly of the 2012 state defense orders, faces delays over pricing, the Kommersant daily said on Saturday citing shipbuilding and defense sources.

“The defense ministry is again dissatisfied with the price substantiation, so the signing of the contract is ruled out in the near future,” a source in the shipbuilding industry told Kommersant.
According to the paper, Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) said one submarine will cost about 26 billion rubles ($878,000), or about 130 billion rubles ($4.4 billion) in total.
A defense ministry source said “the manufacturers still want to sell it at an unjustifiably high price,” while shipbuilders say such prices would barely allow them to make any profit.
 Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister in charge of the defense industry, said earlier this week he was uncertain that the agreement will be reached on all state defense orders for 2012 before the April 15 deadline

He said that price is still being negotiated on some objects on the list that require a production period of five-seven years, for example those intended for the Air Force and the Navy.

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*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ria Novosti
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News