In Brief

Boeing flies fuel cell-powered airplane

Boeing officials announced the company has flown a manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The milestone is the work of an engineering team at Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE) in Madrid, Spain, with assistance from industry partners in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts hydrogen directly into electricity and heat with none of the products of combustion such as carbon dioxide. Other than heat, water is its only exhaust. A two-seat Dimona motor-glider with a 16.3-meter (53.5-foot) wingspan was used as the airframe. Built by Diamond Aircraft Industries of Austria, it was modified by BR&TE to include a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell/lithium-ion battery hybrid system to power an electric motor coupled to a conventional propeller. Three test flights took place in February and March at the airfield in Ocaña, south of Madrid, operated by the Spanish company SENASA. According to Boeing researchers, PEM fuel cell technology potentially could power small manned and unmanned air vehicles. Over the longer term, solid oxide fuel cells could be applied to secondary power-generating systems, such as auxiliary power units for large commercial airplanes. Boeing engineers do not envision that fuel cells will ever provide primary power for large passenger airplanes, but they will continue to investigate their potential, as well as other sustainable alternative fuel and energy sources that improve environmental performance.

Lockheed Martin to support defense department high-performance computing centers

Lockheed Martin in Seabrook, Md., won the Next Generation Technical Services contract from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The contract calls for operation and maintenance of high-performance computing centers at four major DOD scientific research sites. In support of the DOD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP), Lockheed Martin will provide systems administration, computer operations and management, systems integration, applications and user support, and data visualization services for each of the four DOD major shared resource centers. The sites include the Navy Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss.; Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; and Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Responsible to the deputy under secretary for defense for science and technology, the HPCMP serves the DOD research-and-development and simulation and test communities by providing supercomputer services, high-speed network communications, and computational science expertise. Following a two-month transition period, Lockheed Martin will begin operations on June 1. Lockheed Martin will be supported by High Performance Computing Technologies Inc. in Reston, Va.; Quantum Recruiting in Dallas; and Victory Solutions in Huntsville, Ala.

General Dynamics awarded $159 million for Abrams tank work

General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, Mich., won two contracts totaling $159 million for work on the M-1 Abrams main battle tank. The first award, worth $151 million, pays for Abrams Tank Systems Technical Support (STS) work. General Dynamics will conduct engineering studies on Abrams tanks to identify improvements and replace obsolete parts to maintain the tanks at high operational readiness rates. The second award, for $8.1 million, adds money to the existing material contract for the reset of 204 M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) main battle tanks. The reset restores used equipment to combat-level capability. The reset tanks will feature improved technology to bolster crew situational awareness. The upgrades include second-generation forward-looking infrared, far target locate, a tank-infantry phone, and driver’s vision enhancement. The improvements increase the M1A1’s fighting capability by providing soldiers with an electronic graphic of the battlefield with icons for friendly and enemy forces, and a tank commander’s thermal sight for the .50-caliber machine gun. To date, $29 million of long-lead material has been ordered under this contract.

U.S. Navy certifies Northrop Grumman electronic charting technology for nuclear attack submarines

The U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) approved a Northrop Grumman navigation system as an authorized Electronic Chart Display and Information System, Navy (ECDIS-N) for the U.S. Navy’s Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine fleet. The AN/BPS-15H radar systems on the 688-class submarines came from Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine business unit in Charlottesville, Va. The CNO approval applies to AN/BPS-15H systems running under Sperry Marine’s Voyage Management System (VMS) software, integrated with the Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS) on the submarines. Approval came following evaluations and sea trials on USS Boise (SSN 764). “This is a major milestone in the U.S. Navy’s drive to convert from navigating on paper nautical charts to ECDIS-N technology, opening the way for rapid adoption of paperless navigation throughout the submarine fleet,” says J. Nolasco DaCunha, vice president of Sperry Marine. “Under the CNO directive, fleet commanders can authorize the AN/BPS-15H with VMS as the primary navigation plot on individual submarines in place of paper charts.” With this approval, seven surface ships and five submarines are authorized to navigate with Sperry Marine’s ECDIS-N system as the primary means of navigation.

Raytheon wins contract with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to perform flight controller and instructor training needs analysis

NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston selected Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC (RTSC) in Reston, Va., to provide a training model for flight controllers and instructors. The contract expands the scope of RTSC’s training support solutions with NASA to front-end training design, giving the company an opportunity to influence the way NASA trains flight controllers and instructors for space vehicle knowledge operations. Johnson Space Center will carry out a training model for operator flight controllers who aspire to flight expedition instructors. It will shorten the training process, combining like discipline flight controller and instructor certification flows, while increasing the chances of individual success with a unified process, Raytheon officials say.

BAE Systems wins additional M777 howitzer order

BAE Systems in Hattiesburg, Miss., received an order from the U.S. Department of Defense for 87 additional M777A2 155-millimeter towed howitzers, worth $176 million. The order adds to the 589 M777A2 howitzers already on order for the U.S. armed forces, of which more than 300 have been delivered. The 155-millimeter towed howitzers purchased under this contract will be delivered in 2010. The M777 effort is managed by the Light Weight 155-millimeter Joint Program office at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. BAE Systems’ facilities at Barrow-in-Furness, U.K., and Hattiesburg manufacture, integrate, and test the guns. BAE Systems also provides support, training, maintenance, and spares for the guns in service all around the world. The M777 howitzer incorporates titanium and aluminum alloys. Weighing less than 10,000 pounds, it is half the weight of a conventional 155-millimeter system. The light weight enables rapid deployment of M777 into any theater of operation. The gun is being deployed using the M982 Excalibur guided ammunition, developed by Raytheon and BAE Systems, which delivers a maximum range of 40 kilometers with an accuracy of 10 meters.

Rockwell Collins awarded contract modification for C/KC-135 Global Air Traffic Management upgrade

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a $64.6 million modification to the C/KC-135 Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) Lot VI contract. This is in addition to previously ordered hardware kits and installations. Given this modification, the GATM contract value exceeds $555 million. As of March 2008, Rockwell Collins has delivered the U.S. Air Force 229 C/KC-135 production aircraft equipped with GATM technology. As the prime avionics systems integrator for the U.S. Air Force C/KC-135 GATM program, Rockwell Collins is providing the technology that ensures the KC-135 meets current and future communication/navigation/surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) requirements, enabling it to operate in commercial airspace.

SAIC to support Army Ammunition Systems Management

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) won a prime contract from the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command Acquisition Center to support the Army’s Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM-MAS). The contract has a one-year base period, four one-year options, and a total contract value of $10 million if all options are exercised. PM-MAS is responsible for providing world-class ammunition to the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, and U.S. allies for use by soldiers and maneuver combat weapons platforms worldwide. Under this contract, SAIC will provide program management support for current and future small-, medium-, and large-caliber ammunition programs. SAIC will perform a range of engineering and management support activities, including acquisition management, life-cycle and strategic planning, logistics, training, production development, and testing and evaluation. The SAIC-led team will perform work at locations nationwide, including at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.; Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo.; Fort Benning, Ga.; and Fort Knox, Ky.

DRS to provide vehicle vision enhancement systems to the U.S. Marine Corps

DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems in Cypress, Calif., won a $19 million contract from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, in Crane, Ind., to provide the U.S. Marine Corps with vehicle vision enhancement systems (VES). The Marine Corps will incorporate the systems onto Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) vehicles. The VES is a non-developmental item DRS is providing to the U.S. Marine Corps JAB vehicle program by using existing DRS-manufactured products in use by U.S. and international military forces. The company’s VES provides the Marine Corps with a solution that is more affordable and quicker to manufacture, deliver, and install since it does not require designs and engineering specifications, DRS officials say. The VES uses combat-proven DRS infrared sensors and displays in widespread use on tactical vehicles deployed with the Marine Corps and U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VES consists of four uncooled infrared thermal imaging sensors, one display, one wide field-of-view monochrome CCD, and one control interface box. It is designed to provide 165-degree situational awareness, enhancing the forward vision of the driver and commander during movement, bridge launch, and recovery operations, and under conditions of limited visibility such as night, dust, smoke, or fog.

L-3 Interstate Electronics to provide GPS receivers

L-3 Interstate Electronics Corp. (IEC) in Anaheim, Calif., announced that Alliant TechSystems Inc. (ATK) selected its TruTrak Evolution GPS receiver (TTE) as the key component of its guidance system for the U.S. Army’s Precision Guidance Kit (PGK) program. The L-3’s TTE receiver is a gun-hardened, miniaturized GPS receiver designed for incorporation into the fuze well of munitions to provide positioning data for the guidance system. The PGK program allows the Army to outfit the existing inventory of High Explosive (HE) Rounds with a precision guidance capability providing a dramatic improvement in accuracy at a low cost. The PGK design combines a proprietary aerodynamic steering technique with an extremely small system implementation allowing the guidance system to be incorporated into the space traditionally set aside for only the fuze subsystem, L-3 officials say. “L-3’s TTE receiver will contribute significantly to the success of the Army’s Precision Guidance Kit program,” says Dave Wise, ATK vice president and general manager, Advanced Weapons. “We are pleased that it will cost-enhance the performance of the system.” The ATK Precision Guidance Kit was part of a flight test at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz.

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