In Brief

Next-generation avionics for Ariane 5 launch vehicle to be provided by Astrium

The European Space Agency (ESA) selected Astrium in Paris, France for initial development of its Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME) program that will integrate next-generation avionics and flight software into the spacecraft. The teams at Astrium Space Transportation are working on a new upper stage for the launch vehicle. In addition to the avionics and flight software, it will feature a new re-ignitable Vinci engine. The new upper stage for the Ariane ME will be more safe and reliable than existing equipment, company officials say. The ESA program aims to raise the payload capacity of Ariane 5 from 10 to 12 tons, Astrium officials say. The new Ariane 5 is expected to make its first commercial flight around 2017.

UAV, UGV capabilities of Brigade Combat Team Modernization Increment 1 to enter production

Boeing officials announced that Increment 1 of the U.S. Army’s Brigade Combat Team Modernization program will begin low-rate initial production early in 2010 as a result of the Milestone C production review by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB). A key element of the program will provide soldiers with enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as increased survivability and lethality. Initial capabilities include a small unmanned ground vehicle (UGV); a Class I unmanned air vehicle (UAV); unattended ground sensors that are multi-mode surveillance sensors for target detection, location, and classification, with an imaging capability for identification; a non-line-of-sight launch system, which is an unmanned missile system capable of extended range targeting and precision attack; and an integrated computer to host communications, radio systems, and battle command software.

NASA chooses three finalists for future space science mission to Venus, an asteroid, or the moon

NASA selected three finalists for the agency’s next space mission to another planet in the solar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 may provide a better understanding of Earth’s formation or perhaps the origin of life on Earth, NASA officials say. The selected proposals are the Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer, or SAGE, the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer spacecraft, and MoonRise: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission. The proposed missions would probe the atmosphere and crust of Venus; return a piece of a near-Earth asteroid for analysis; or drop a robotic lander into a basin at the moon’s south pole to return lunar rocks back to Earth for study. NASA will select one proposal for full development after detailed mission concept studies are completed and reviewed. The studies begin during 2010, and the selected mission must be ready for launch no later than Dec. 30, 2018. Mission cost, excluding the launch vehicle, is limited to $650 million. Each proposal team initially will receive approximately $3.3 million in 2010 to conduct a 12-month mission concept study that focuses on implementation feasibility, cost, management, and technical plans. For more information, visit

QinetiQ brings Combined Aerial Target Service for Mirach online

QinetiQ in Farnborough, England, brought into service the Mirach advanced sub-sonic aerial target, as part of the Combined Aerial Target Service (CATS) contract for the United Kingdom’s armed forces, having completed verification and operational trials. Mirach targets are manufactured by SELEX Galileo of Finmeccanica and offer new payloads to meet United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (MOD) training requirements, QinetiQ officials say. These include the integration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies like chaff and flare, an intense onboard heat source, miss distance indicator capabilities, radar enhancements and an identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder plus the ability to present towed infrared and semi automatic radar targets. Mirach operations have commenced from designated land-based ranges and the CATS provision will also allow Mirach to be launched from on-board ship.

Raytheon wins $1.1 billion order from Taiwan for Patriot missile defense systems

Raytheon in Tewksbury, Mass., won foreign military sales contracts totaling $1.1 billion to build the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System for Taiwan. These include ground-system hardware contract of $965.6 million, and spares contract of $134.4 million; both contracts came from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Raytheon is the prime contractor for domestic and international Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems and system integrator for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.

Aegis ballistic missile defense system signal processor upgrade tracks missile targets in tests

The second generation of the Lockheed Martin Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, BMD 4.0.1, detected, tracked, and engaged different ballistic missile targets during a series of simulated tracking exercises in the Pacific. The key feature of the new system is an integrated signal processor to improve discrimination between ballistic missiles and their countermeasures, say Lockheed Martin officials in Moorestown, N.J. During four tests, the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie, with upgraded BMD 4.0.1 Weapon System, detected, tracked, and launched simulated Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) weapons to intercept ballistic missiles launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The targets ranged from simple separating medium-range missiles to sophisticated, separating short-range missiles designed to confuse missile-defense systems. During the tests, USS Lake Erie transmitted data via a tactical data link to other ships and shore command facilities. Over the next year, USS Lake Erie will complete additional tests, leading up to full operational certification of the Aegis BMD 4.0.1 system in early 2011.

FAA solicits bids for NextGen contracts worth $7 billion

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington is soliciting bids from companies interested in competing for NextGen support contracts worth about $7 billion, the largest award in the agency’s history. Under the umbrella awards, called System Engineering 2020 (SE2020), the FAA will award as many as five separate contracts for research-and-development and systems engineering work that will help the agency deliver the NextGen air traffic management system. Work will enhance NextGen initiatives such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), system-wide information management, and data communications. Contractor teams will focus on capabilities such as trajectory-based operations, collaborative air traffic management, and reduced weather impact. The FAA is encouraging bids from teams of small companies, prime contractors, and subcontractors. Five-year contracts will be awarded next summer, with subsequent three- and two-year options.

Boeing delivers 500th Combat Track II airborne intelligence system to U.S. Air Force

Boeing delivered the 500th Combat Track II kit, an airborne intelligence system for U.S. Air Force cargo and bomber aircraft. “These systems allow air crews to respond to threats more quickly and effectively,” says Capt. Scott Frank, Air Force program manager for Combat Track. “Combat Track II has become critical to our mission, providing timely intelligence to support combat forces.” The Combat Track II system provides aircrews with command and control information as well as secure, beyond line-of-sight, encrypted communications between the aircraft and Air Operations Centers worldwide.

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August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

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