In Brief

Jan 1st, 2008

Boeing installs high-energy laser on Laser Gunship aircraft

Boeing engineers have installed a high-energy chemical laser aboard a C-130H aircraft, achieving a key milestone for the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program. Boeing completed the laser installation last month at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The laser, including its major subsystem, a 12,000-pound integrated laser module, was moved into place aboard the aircraft and aligned with the previously-installed beam control system, which will direct the laser beam to its target. With the laser installed, Boeing is set to conduct a series of tests leading up to a demonstration in 2008 in which the program will fire the laser in-flight at ground targets to demonstrate the military utility of high-energy lasers. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft’s belly. The program achieved two other major milestones earlier this year. “Low-power” flight tests were completed in June at Kirtland; the ATL aircraft used its flight demonstration hardware and a low-power laser to find and track moving and stationary ground targets. The flight demonstration hardware includes the beam control system; weapon system consoles, which display high-resolution imagery and enable the tracking of targets; and sensors. The low-power laser, a surrogate for the high-energy laser, hit its intended target in each of more than a dozen tests. Also, in late July, the high-energy laser concluded laboratory testing at the Davis Advanced Laser Facility at Kirtland, demonstrating reliable operations in more than 50 firings.

Northrop Grumman develops high-speed transistor

Northrop Grumman Space Technology in Redondo Beach, Calif., set a world record for transistor speed with an ultra-fast device that will provide much higher frequency and bandwidth capabilities for future military communications, radar, and intelligence applications, company officials say. The company has produced and demonstrated an indium phosphide-based High Electron Mobility Transistor (InP HEMT) with a maximum frequency of operation of more than 1,000 gigahertz, or greater than one terahertz. Researchers at Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector, led by Richard Lai, detailed how they developed the terahertz-speed transistor in a technical paper delivered at the 2007 International Electron Devices Meeting in Washington, sponsored by the Electron Devices Society of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers. “This represents, to the best of our knowledge, the state of the art in high-frequency transistor capability,” says Dwight Streit, vice president, Technical Development and Microelectronics Technology at the company’s Space Technology sector. “These advancements will enable a generation of military and commercial applications that operate at higher frequencies with improved performance.” The terahertz transistor is the latest generation in a long line of compound semiconductor products that Northrop Grumman has produced by the millions for government and commercial uses, Streit says. Tests conducted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., validated the ultra-fast transistor by measuring a three-stage millimeter wave integrated circuit amplifier at 340 gigahertz with greater than 15 decibel gain. Development of the terahertz-speed InP HEMT was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Sub-millimeter Wave Imaging Focal-plane Technology program, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and internal company funds.

Raytheon tests air-launched missile defense system

Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., has flight tested a key component of the Network Centric Airborne Defense Element missile defense system with the intercept of a test ballistic missile. The Dec. 3 test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., demonstrated the NCADE infrared seeker’s ability to acquire and track a ballistic missile target in the boost phase. NCADE is an air-launched weapon system designed to engage short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in the boost and ascent phase of flight. NCADE provides an interim or near-term solution to boost or ascent phase threats. “This test provides clear evidence that the NCADE seeker is a viable solution against a boosting ballistic missile threat,” says Mike Booen, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Advanced Missile Defense. “NCADE fills a critical niche in the Ballistic Missile Defense system and provides a revolutionary, low-cost approach to interceptor development and acquisition.” The NCADE interceptor leverages many proven components and technologies, including the aerodynamic design, aircraft interface, and flight control system of Raytheon’s Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. The commonality with AMRAAM enables NCADE to launch from a wide variety of aircraft. NCADE’s small size enables it to be carried by and launched from smaller unmanned aerial vehicles, providing a potential operational advantage. NCADE also leverages imaging infrared seeker components from existing Raytheon production programs. This enables a potentially rapid development and fielding path.

General Dynamics to provide cyber situational awareness support to DHS US-CERT

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded General Dynamics in Falls Church, Va., a $48.2 million task order to provide cyber situational awareness support, analysis, and technical and infrastructure support to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) -- the operational arm of DHS’s National Cyber Security Division and is a partnership between DHS and the public and private sectors to protect the nation’s Internet infrastructure. US-CERT coordinates the defense against and responses to cyber attacks across the nation. General Dynamics has performed similar services for the US-CERT since 2004. The task order was awarded under the DHS Enterprise Acquisitions Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) contract.

BAE Systems awarded contract to reset Bradley Fighting Vehicles

BAE Systems in York, Pa., won a contract modification from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, totaling $709.4 million, for the reset of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and associated components. This modification represents the largest national level reset award for Bradley Combat Systems to date. When combined with an earlier award of $234 million for long lead materials and the option worth $57 million, this effort represents over $1 billion for the reset of Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Under the base contract, BAE Systems will reset 1,042 Bradley A3 and ODS Combat Systems returning from Iraq and reset additional A3 components. The contract also carries an option for an additional 58 vehicles. Vehicles that undergo the reset process not only have their useful life restored that was consumed during combat operations, they also receive the latest survivability enhancements and other improvements. BAE Systems is working through the company’s Public Private Partnership with Red River Army Depot (RRAD) to reset these vehicles. Initial disassembly and subsystem rebuild will be performed at RRAD. Final disassembly and structural modifications will be completed by BAE Systems in Fayette County, Pa., and final assembly, integration, and test will be conducted at the company’s facility in York.

Navy gives final approval for Aegis open architecture

The U.S. Navy has given its final approval for Lockheed Martin in Moorestown, N.J., to proceed with the integration and shipboard installation of the open-architecture Aegis weapon system for a major surface warship. Aegis Open Architecture will be installed in the cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) during its Depot Modernization Period (DMP), scheduled to commence in February 2008. Aegis Open Architecture will allow the Navy to stay on technology’s leading edge through its use of commonly-available commercial off-the-shelf computing hardware and open system software, enabling the service to more easily implement technology refreshes and capability upgrades to the weapon system as they are developed in the future. Bunker Hill is the first of 22 cruisers scheduled for modernization with Aegis Open Architecture over the next 10 years. In 2012, the Navy will begin a similar modernization program for the 62-ship class of Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke destroyers. The Aegis Weapon System is the world’s premier naval surface defense system. It integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, SM-2 and SM-3 missiles, and the weapon system’s command and control system.

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