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Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

MOSA Expedites Army Modernization Efforts at Aviation, Missile Center

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — It’s more than just a buzzword — it’s the way of the future for Army aviation.

MOSA — modular open systems architecture (or approach) — has become a popular term in recent years in the defense community, but it’s something the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Joint Technology Center/System Integration Laboratory has worked on for years. That expertise and baseline is helping the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center adapt technologies quickly, efficiently and at a lower cost to support Army modernization efforts.

“While it’s a new term today, for us it’s business as usual,” said Joe Reis, Multiple Unified Simulation Environment lead for the JSIL. “We’ve been striving for the last 10 years to try to break our software down into components so it can be reused. Wherever possible, we started adopting all these different standard protocols with the vision of being able to reuse those components and being able to integrate with more than just ourselves. With that we’re able to stretch into areas we never have before.”

At DEVCOM AvMC, the MOSA success story starts with MUSE — the Multiple Unified Simulation Environment — a command and staff trainer. Originally created to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance simulation capabilities, today the government-developed and sustained MUSE software baseline is being used in a variety of systems, including advanced teaming, part of AvMC’s support to the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team. The JSIL works primarily with unmanned aircraft systems, to include Shadow, Gray Eagle, Reaper and Global Hawk.

“The MUSE baseline was the foundational software that we began with for the Advanced Teaming effort,” said JSIL Software Lead James Bowman III. “We’ve been modifying and enhancing the MUSE baseline for over 20 years, by incorporating customer capability requests, keeping pace with industry standards and maintaining an accreditation (Authority to Operate — ATO). It would not have been possible for the Army to constitute the capabilities inherent in MUSE in time to meet the needs of Army Futures Command.”

“We’ve leaped into this research and development field instead of just being a trainer, because of being able to break these components down,” Reis added.

For the AvMC team, that is the whole point of MOSA — delivering solutions expeditiously to the Army and the Warfighter.

“MOSA is taking a modular approach, and for us, that’s just not theoretical,” Bowman said. “Software modularity allows the teams to share components across our enterprise, thereby negating duplicative efforts. It is paramount that the government continue to address intelligent software design, since it is our responsibility to provide quality solutions to and for the Warfighter that are concurrently cost-optimal for the government.

“We work to ensure that there is an intentionality to identifying common capabilities, already resident in MUSE, in order to exploit for utilization in our UAS Trainer solutions. Obviously, if not properly implemented, there can be challenges with code synchronization. JSIL addresses this by adhering to industry standard software processes and by utilizing Azure DevOps to ensure solution integrity. Consequently, stove-pipe solutions are a thing of the past. Once a bug is fixed in a component, all software that utilizes that component inherits the benefits of the fix.”

Another MOSA success story is the JSIL’s support to the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team. The Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer-Air uses the MUSE baseline foundationally, merged with work the JSIL did for the Air Force, to create a UAS software baseline for the RVCT-A.

“We would not have been able to support the high op-tempo of the RVCT-A effort had we not leveraged and utilized this MOSA construct,” Bowman said. “We continue to be energized about the possibilities of utilizing the MUSE and collective decades of UAS modeling and simulation domain knowledge to address current and emerging requirements.”

What’s next for MOSA at AvMC? The JSIL team will support swarming unmanned aircraft systems, part of the work being done with Advanced Teaming and Air Launched Effects. That effort includes incorporating an Army Game Studio Image Generator, which will reduce the money spent for commercial off the shelf rendering engine licenses and maintenance fees, a price tag that runs over $1 million alone for one UAS variant.

“If we can take that million-dollar expenditure and invest it in an existing GOTS image generator, that cost just goes away,” Bowman said. “MOSA is not just some buzzword, in our view, the implementation thereof provides tangible evidence of how we save the Army money, and how we get solutions to the soldier expeditiously, because we’re constantly building on a pre-existing, well-vetted, foundation.”

AvMC supports a variety of partners with MOSA, to include Program Executive Office Aviation; PEO Simulation, Training and Instrumentation; the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation; PEO Intelligence Electronic Warfare & Sensors; and the FVL and Synthetic Training Environment CFTs.

“All of this work that we have done and are very proud of also has a global impact,” Bowman said. “We work with coalition partners, and because we adhere to these standards, when we show up to an exercise, not only are we operating our simulation, our coalition partners ask us at times to help them and we do that proudly. We’re U.S. citizens working with our coalition partners that are going to go to battle with us in the event that hostilities break out. We’re very proud to work with these standards to support not just the U.S., but its partners.”

By Amy Tolson, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public Affairs

NATO Mountain Warfare Rescue Exercise in Slovenia

Thursday, December 30th, 2021

This video of a recent NATO Mountain Warfare Rescue exercise in Slovenia features the Gravity Industries Jet Suit.

TacJobs – Blue Air Training Seeks Fighter Pilots

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

The holidays are a great time to reflect on what is important to ourselves and our family. It’s time to ask if we are fulfilled professionally and personally. At Blue Air Training, we are looking to hire leaders who are ready to take their career and life to the next level. Join an elite team, continue supporting our Nation’s Warfighters and make a real difference in the world.

Check out our CAREERS page for all available positions.

Marine Pilots Hone Proficiency in Information, Electronic Warfare

Sunday, December 19th, 2021


Marine pilots refocus their priorities, opting to train their electronic warfare capabilities to defeat adversaries in the information environment aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Dec. 2-3.

The training enabled U.S. Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267 to familiarize themselves with the AN/ALQ-231 Intrepid Tiger II Electronic Warfare  pod from signals intelligence specialists with Team Ronin of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing intelligence section.

The IT II is a precision, on-demand, external carriage EW weapon system designed to provide Marine Corps aircraft with an organic, distributed and networked EW capability that can be controlled from the cockpit or by a ground operator. Its open architecture design and rapid reprogrammability give IT II the flexibility and adaptability to meet current and future threats.

The Marines of HMLA-267 are the first squadron in the 3rd MAW to conduct this style of training on the IT II with Team Ronin. Team Ronin’s signals intelligence and electronic warfare chief, Master Sgt. Chris Meser, expects to continue building familiarization with additional squadrons.

“The training was crucial in enhancing our readiness and capability,” said Meser. “By integrating with our organic rotary wing squadrons, this allowed for an improved concept of employment for future operations. This was the first of many in the training series for Electronic Warfare Integration. We intend to help foster an environment which provides a greater contribution to Operations in the Information Environment & Intelligence efforts.”

Training began with hands-on time with the IT II to develop a cursory understanding of its capabilities. Later, the system was loaded onto a UH-1Y Venom before running a variety of test-missions across its capability set to demonstrate its rapid reprogrammability. Once the practical application portion was completed, training concluded with signals intelligence specialists briefing all the systems capabilities and limitations to the pilots of HMLA-267.

1st Lt. Dylan Wesseling, intelligence officer for HMLA-267, was one of the training participants. “Communications jamming is going to be key in breaking down the kill chain for the enemy, and exploiting possible vulnerabilities,” said Wesseling. “The IT II provides the HMLA an organic electronic attack and electronic warfare support capability that is more accessible than the Marine Corps’ other high-demand, low-density assets, and I think that’s going to vital in a high-traffic littoral and maritime environment.”

While the IT II has been used in conflicts dating back to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, this was the first time many of the participants got the opportunity to train with the system. Given the renewed emphasis EW is expected to play on the next battlefield, the trainees appreciated the opportunity.

“The IT II is something that allows us to be relevant when coupled with the other capabilities of the HMLA,” Wesseling continued. “There’s no sugarcoating it. The next fight is going to be tough, but training that acknowledges our need to exploit the enemy’s dependence on technology and communications are exactly what we need to come out of that conflict as the winners.”

Team Ronin is next expected to put their knowledge of the IT II to the test in February 2022 for Exercise Winter Fury 2022. Winter Fury 2022 is a capstone annual exercise that allows the 3rd MAW to refine and validate emerging service level and unit level concepts that enhance aviation readiness in support of Fleet Marine Force and naval fleet maritime campaigns. Meser plans to distribute his team throughout 3rd MAW with various rotary wing squadrons, now that his Marines have a strong foundation in the fundamentals and can teach others in a field environment. Team Ronin also expects to work with the U.S. Navy aircraft participating in Winter Fury 2022 to enhance their ability to work as a joint littoral force.

This iteration of training utilized the IT II V(3), which can be employed on the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper. This asset is not limited to these platforms alone. Other versions include the V(4), which was recently tested on the MV-22 Osprey, and the V(1), which can be flown on the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 C/D Hornets, and KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.

Story by 1st Lt Kyle McGuire, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Photo by Sgt Samuel Ruiz

Rapid Dragon’s First Live Fire Test of a Palletized Weapon System Deployed from a Cargo Aircraft Destroys Target

Friday, December 17th, 2021

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA (AFRL) – The Air Force Rapid Dragon Program, a fast-paced experimentation campaign led by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) office, successfully completed its final flight test December 16 at the Eglin AFB Overwater Test Range.

The flight test capstoned a 2-year series and culminated in a live fire of a current inventory cruise missile armed with a live warhead. Rapid Dragon demonstrates the ability to employ weapons using standard airdrop procedures from cargo aircraft using the Rapid Dragon Palletized Weapon System.

The program name is derived from a thousand-year-old Chinese military designed crossbow catapult that launched multiple crossbow bolts with the pull of a single trigger, raining destruction down on armies from tremendous ranges. These lethal devices were called Ji Long Che—Rapid Dragon Carts. Today, the Rapid Dragon concept is changing the game again, this time as an airborne delivery system for U.S. Air Force weapons. And like its namesake, these palletized munitions promise to unleash mighty salvos en masse on distant adversaries.

During the December test, an MC-130J flown by an Air Force Special Operations Command operational flight crew, received new targeting data while in flight which was then routed to the cruise missile flight test vehicle (FTV). The aircraft agnostic Battle Management System’s inflight receipt and upload of the new targeting data into the FTV was a first-time achievement with a live cruise missile.

Once inside the drop zone over the Gulf of Mexico, the MC-130J aircrew airdropped a four-cell Rapid Dragon deployment system containing the FTV and three mass simulants, which were sequentially released from the palletized deployment box while under parachute. Safe separation from the deployment box and weapon deconfliction was demonstrated using an unconventional deployment method (nose-down vertical orientation). Immediately after the vertical release, the FTV deployed its wings and tail, achieved aerodynamic control, ignited its engine, performed a powered pull-up maneuver, and proceeded toward its newly assigned target. The cruise missile successfully destroyed its target upon impact.

The next step for the Rapid Dragon Program will be a live-fire test with a cruise missile from a C-17 in Spring 2022, demonstrating the aircraft agnostic capabilities of the Palletized Weapon System. Of note, the new retargeting methodology developed by the Rapid Dragon team is designed to be transferrable to other strike and cargo platforms, potentially increasing the lethality of those aircraft. Lastly, a follow-on program will look at expanding the Rapid Dragon carriage portfolio to include additional weapon systems and multiple effects capabilities, as well as continuing the maturation of the system, taking it from a developmental prototype to an operational prototype over the next two years.

“This type of experimentation campaign, that address capability gaps and demonstrates transformative efforts, helps us shape future requirements and reduces timeline to fielding,” said Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, Air Force Research Laboratory commander, adding “This approach ultimately enables a rapid fielding alternative to traditional lengthy acquisition timelines.”

In addition to SDPE and AFSOC, demonstration participants included the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren; Standoff Munitions Application Center; Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control; Systima Technologies; Safran Electronics & Defense, Parachutes USA, and R4 Integration, Inc.

Agility and collaboration enabled this government/industry team to go from a design to a system level flight test in 10 months, followed by a live fire five months later. During those last five months, Rapid Dragon has conducted five system level flight tests using three different aircraft (MC-130J, EC-130SJ, and C-17A).

“Rapid Dragon is a prime example of a government/industry partnership that embraces this acceleration mindset, building a community of subject matter experts and executing an aggressive, but well-thought-out, experimentation campaign,” said Dr. Dean Evans, SDPE’s Rapid Dragon Program Manager.  This sentiment was echoed by Aaron Klosterman, SDPE’s Experimentation & Prototyping Division Chief when he said, “This accomplishment is a testament to what an agile U.S. Air Force and industry team can do when it is empowered to do business differently.”

The successful Rapid Dragon experiments pave the way for U.S. and allied mobility platforms to dramatically increase fires available for a combatant commander to place more adversary targets at risk. 

“Rapid Dragon was able to accelerate development by building a broad and strong team.  We were committed to a ’test often/learn-fast’ culture, dedicated to experimenting frequently and taking calculated risks. In addition to the MAJCOMs and Air Staff, the Rapid Dragon team included the Developmental Test (DT) and Operational Test (OT) communities, the aircraft and weapons Program Offices, and the mission planners. This collaboration from the onset streamlined the process and accelerated development, involving groups from the program inception that are not normally included at the very early stages, and that has made all the difference,” Evans added.

By Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Air Force to Field New Bladder Relief Device, Works Toward ‘Suite of Options’

Saturday, December 11th, 2021


The Air Force is scheduled to receive the first shipment of the Omni Gen. 3 Skydrate, an improved in-flight bladder relief device, in early December.

The Air Force recognized that current devices were not optimized for long-duration sorties, and as a result, aircrew were routinely dehydrating themselves to delay the need for bladder relief. Dehydration can lead to reduced endurance and G-force tolerance while in the aircraft, as well as other negative health issues.

Air Combat Command was the lead command in determining the new bladder relief device requirements for pilots across the Air Force.

“Gen. (Mark) Kelly is focused on reducing predictable barriers to readiness for Airmen,” said Scott Cota, aircrew flight equipment program analyst, ACC Plans, Programs and Requirements directorate, Joint Base Langley-Eustis. “This is just one of the programs we are working on here that will make it easier for Airmen to train and execute their missions.”

ACC worked closely with Air Force Materiel Command and other Air Force units to develop and test Skydrate within a year. Thirty female aircrew were on site at the Omni facility to conduct multi-hour wear tests; nine pilots, at three installations, participated in the flight testing.

“This is a good example of using a ‘fly, fix, fly’ model to prioritize female aircrew feedback and speed up the testing process to field the device quicker,” said Sharon Rogers, lead test engineer, 46th Test Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Skydrate is available for men and women, but there was an emphasis on engineering solutions for female aircrew. Improvements include a larger collection bag, improved flow rate, multiple hose lengths, one-hand operation for on/off functionality, and more interface, or pad, sizes to account for anatomical differences in the wearer.

For Maj. Nikki Yogi, an F-35A Lightning II pilot who participated in the Omni device tests, readiness is at the heart of the issue. Yogi is assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson AFB, Alaska, under Pacific Air Forces Command. Pilots responding to threats in that region must be prepared for long sorties. A routine flight to Guam is approximately 10 hours.

“A pilot should be focused on taking the fight to the enemy, not on whether their bladder relief device is going to work or be comfortable to use,” she said.

Yogi had a poor experience with her device while deployed as an A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot in 2017. As a junior pilot, she did not immediately raise the issue – something she wants to spare future female pilots. She has volunteered for a variety of equipment tests since returning from that deployment.

“It’s important to provide feedback because it’s that feedback that drives change,” she said.

Aircrew will have access to Skydrate by Spring of 2022. The Human Systems Program Office, a subdivision of the Agile Combat Support Directorate, at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is currently reviewing proposals from multiple companies for alternative bladder relief devices with new pumps and innovative human interfaces, which are expected to field within the next year to users. A suite of bladder relief devices will give Airmen the opportunity to choose the most comfortable human interface option while allowing them to focus on executing the mission.

By Jennifer Kennemer, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

USAF Orders 15 Silent Arrow Precision Guided Cargo Delivery Drones

Monday, December 6th, 2021

World’s First Production 1-Ton Cargo Delivery Drone to be Scaled Down and Flown to Address New Humanitarian and Tactical Markets

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 29, 2021 — Silent Arrow today announced the United States Air Force, through the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), has awarded the company a contract entitled “Guided Bundle Derivative of Silent Arrow® for Side Door and Palletized Swarm Deployment at High Speeds and Altitudes” effective November 12, 2021.

Under this Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) Phase II contract, the commercially successful Silent Arrow® GD-2000 (Glider, Disposable, 2000 pounds) platform will be scaled down and redesigned as a new product line called the Silent Arrow® Precision Guided Bundle (SA-PGB), which will initially be developed as an autonomous cargo delivery glider. The SA-PGB is specifically designed for side door and multi-unit (swarm) ramp deployment, compatible with a much-expanded fleet of delivery aircraft ranging from the civilian Cessna Caravan to the military C-17.

The SA-PGB will be designed and built at Silent Arrow’s headquarters in Irvine, California and 15 aircraft will be shipped to the company’s flight test center in Pendleton, Oregon for operational evaluations at the Pendleton UAS Test Range.  Initial specifications include 500-pound max weight, 350-pound cargo capacity, 39 inches long and deployable from high altitudes and airspeeds.

“We’d like to thank the U.S. Special Operations community, the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and various other organizations who signed on to support this award for a new life-saving cargo delivery drone,” said Chip Yates, Silent Arrow’s founder and CEO.  “We look forward to an exciting flight test program in 2022 and quickly getting this new capability into the hands of the warfighter and disaster relief organizations alike.”

Silent Arrow’s tightly integrated packaging with its patented spring-deployed wing system, industry-leading payload capacity, 40-mile standoff distance and low unit cost, has received enthusiastic reception from U.S. and foreign customers and is currently being delivered and operated to directly serve heavy-payload, autonomous cargo resupply needs throughout the world.

Schübeler Technologies Supports Visionary Project of ETH Zurich

Friday, November 26th, 2021

Students realize bionic inspired morphing concept for the aircraft of tomorrow.
Rome, NY- A control concept inspired by nature and combined with morphing technology has now been realized by engineering students of ETH Zurich together with aviation experts. The eight-member student team is testing novel control concepts and construction methods in aviation. The aim is to reduce energy consumption and noise generation through reduced drag and to improve the maneuverability of the aircraft.

Schübeler Technologies actively supported this innovative project and provided both engines and technical expertise in an advisory capacity. “By participating in this project, we would like to contribute to the further development of aviation,” explains Daniel Schübeler, Managing Director of Schübeler Technologies. “The visionary approach of Bionic Flying Wing as well as the enthusiasm and creativity of the team excited us.”

The project aims to prove the feasibility of bionic inspired morphing concepts in the air. To this end, a deformable morphing wing structure with a three-meter wingspan was developed to be used in place of discrete flaps. A top speed of up to 100 km/h can be achieved with it. The wing structures are specifically deformed to replace conventional control surfaces. In this way, new design potential for the aircraft of tomorrow is opened up The main challenge of this approach is that the wing must be stiff – i.e., it must not flap – but still be able to be deflected. To achieve both, a healthy compromise had to be found. Because of its high strength and low weight, the team therefore opted for CFRP (carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer) as the construction material.

The requirements for the drive system used were also high. In the search for an efficient impeller that delivers the greatest possible thrust in combination with low power consumption, the team quickly came across EDF market leader Schübeler. On Schübeler’s recommendation, the team decided on the DS-51-AXI HDS model with an 1125kv motor and 12 lipo cells. This drive offers a thrust of 5.5 kg (about 55N) with a current consumption of 85 amps, which was perfectly suited for an aircraft of this speed, size and weight. Two fans are used and provide a total thrust of approximately 11kg (110N)

The HDS fan is a quality product designed for durability. The lightweight and highly shortened rotor assembly provides efficient operation through high smoothness. The blades are made of high-temperature, fiber-reinforced polymer, operate highly efficiently, broadband, and quietly. Strength is provided by the carbon shroud.

In a successful first test flight in June of this year, the team proved that bionic inspired morphing concepts can be used to safely control a flying wing aircraft. This was the product of countless hours of engineering and manufacturing, paired with the support of strong sponsors such as Schübeler Technologies.

To learn more about Schübeler Technologies, visit www.schuebeler-technologies.de.