In Briefs

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials in Washington gave the green light for nationwide deployment of the next-generation satellite system, which tracks aircraft by satellite rather than radar.

Feb 1st, 2009

FAA gives green light to NextGen satellite system

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials in Washington gave the green light for nationwide deployment of the next-generation satellite system, which tracks aircraft by satellite rather than radar. Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) will reduce the risk of midair collisions and weather-related accidents, provide more efficient routes in adverse weather, and improve situational awareness for pilots, FAA officials say. FAA acting administrator Robert A. Sturgell commissioned essential services for ADS-B in Florida in November, clearing the way for nationwide deployment of the system by 2013. The installation of 11 ground stations in Florida gives pilots viewing ADS-B cockpit displays the same live traffic seen by controllers. Pilots also receive free, real-time weather updates from the National Weather Service, as well as critical flight information such as temporary flight restrictions and special-use airspace. These advances, in turn, will allow the U.S. to accommodate the increasing number of aircraft in the nation’s skies, and will help to make the travel experience for airline passengers more efficient, safer, and environmentally friendly, FAA officials say.

Northrop Grumman reveals first Navy unmanned combat aircraft

Northrop Grumman unveiled the first of the U.S. Navy’s unmanned combat aircraft, designated the X-47B Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS). It is the first of two aircraft that Northrop Grumman will produce for the Navy to demonstrate unmanned combat aircraft operations from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The Navy awarded the demonstration contract to Northrop Grumman in 2007 and aircraft assembly was completed in just over a year, Northrop Grumman officials say. The aircraft will undergo subsystem and structural testing in preparation for first flight in fall 2009. UCAS CV Demonstration sea trials are planned to begin in late 2011. The second X-47B aircraft is in initial assembly at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., and is expected to be completed next year. Northrop Grumman’s industry teammates on the X-47B UCAS program include Dell, Eaton Aerospace, GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace, Goodrich, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Moog, Parker Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins, and Wind River.

Lockheed Martin selected for next-generation GOES-R weather satellites

NASA selected Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Denver to build the next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series, known as GOES-R, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The basic contract is for two spacecraft. Two options each provide for one additional spacecraft. The total estimated value of the basic contract including options is $1.09 billion. Data from the GOES system provides accurate real-time weather forecast and early warning products to the public and private sectors. The GOES-R mission will improve forecasting quality and timeliness generating significant economic benefits to the nation in the areas of climate monitoring, ecosystems management, commerce, and transportation, Lockheed Martin officials say. Lockheed Martin’s GOES-R solution builds on the A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft and precision imaging capabilities from previous remote sensing programs. The A2100 satellite fleet consists of 36 satellites and has achieved an accumulated 200 years of in-orbit operations. The Lockheed Martin GOES-R program office will be located at its Space Systems Company facilities in Newtown, Pa. The program will also use Space Systems Company capabilities across the country, including Denver and Sunnyvale, Calif.

Boeing C-17 Aircrew Training System goes into operation at Dover Air Force Base

The C-17 Aircrew Training System (ATS) from Boeing went into operation at Dover Air Force Base, Del., four months ahead of schedule. The system provides training to C-17 Globemaster III airlifter crews from Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command. The key elements in the ATS are the Weapons Systems Trainer (WST) –a realistic, full-motion simulator for pilot training –and the loadmaster station for loadmaster students to practice preflight operations, operate aircraft systems, and practice emergency procedures. The WST in Dover’s ATS is the 20th to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Currently, the WSTs use physical aircraft avionics, says Tracy Mead, C-17 ATS program manager for Boeing. “We plan to upgrade all the existing WSTs with this technology, which means that we will be able to return the physical avionics to the C-17 aircraft program, allowing it to increase its spares inventory.” Boeing has developed, operates, and supports 10 U.S. C-17 ATS sites and expects to expand to three more within and outside the U.S. by 2010. Boeing’s C-17 training contract with the Air Force also includes an option for an additional WST to be delivered to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

Rockwell Collins delivers TacNet data link to Raytheon for Joint Standoff Weapon

Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, delivered the first TacNet data link as part of the U.S. Navy’s Strike Common Weapon Data Link program. Raytheon approved final testing and accepted delivery of TacNet for integration into its weapon systems. Raytheon selected Rockwell Collins in October 2006 to develop a small-form-factor data link for the Joint Standoff Weapon. The contract is worth $18 million. TacNet is a compact, dual-channel, multi-waveform terminal that enables network-centric operation of next-generation weapon systems. It provides in-flight target updates, retargeting, weapon handover coordination, and bomb hit indication, allowing for more and more efficient engagement of moving targets. The terminal also features embedded National Security Agency (NSA) Type-1 security, anti-jam capabilities, is Software Communications Architecture-compliant, and is reprogrammable.

SAE International develops time-triggered protocol standard for aerospace industry

SAE International’s AS-2 Embedded Computing Systems Committee in Warrendale, Pa., announced it is developing an avionics and overall aerospace standard that will help simplify the design of advanced integrated systems using time-triggered protocol (TTP), resulting in system life-cycle cost savings. TTP is one of the core technologies for the design of open time-triggered architecture (TTA) and generic control system platforms for deterministic, modular, scalable, and reusable aerospace systems, SAE officials say. It helps reduce system complexity and life-cycle costs in safety-critical, fault-tolerant, and distributed on-board systems. TTP is selected for integration of key systems in commercial aircraft, such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787, as well as military jets. The SAE AS6003 “TTP Communication Protocol” standard will protect past and system design investments and simplify design, system integration, and incremental modernization of open aerospace and defense systems and architectures, organization officials say.

SAIC wins NASA contract to support Kennedy Space Center

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) won a contract from NASA to provide engineering and technical services to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Ground Operations Project Office in support of NASA’s Constellation Program. The maximum value of the contract is more than $69 million if all options and line items are exercised. Work will be performed primarily at KSC in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Constellation Program aims to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth’s environment, developing technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conducting fundamental science. The program will develop the next-generation U.S. spaceship system –the Orion space capsule and the Ares rocket to launch Orion. Under the contract, SAIC will provide engineering and technical services, project and business management, and administrative services in support of the program.

General Dynamics awards electronic warfare subsystem contract to Lockheed Martin

Officials at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Fairfax, Va., awarded Lockheed Martin MS2 of Syracuse, N.Y., a contract for the development and procurement of the High Gain, High Sensitivity (HGHS) subsystem. General Dynamics Advance Information Systems is the U.S. Navy’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) system integrator for the SEWIP Block 1 program. The HGHS subsystem will enhance detection capabilities to assist Navy sailors in defending ships from emerging threats. General Dynamics will integrate the HGHS subsystem into the SEWIP Block 1B3 upgrade in development. This effort is part of the larger SEWIP Block 1 upgrade program to the AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare suite. The Block 1 upgrade provides a vast improvement to the Surface Navy’s Anti-Ship Missile Defense. Lockheed Martin was selected for the development and procurement of the HGHS subsystem, including the topside antenna systems, the below decks signal processor, and the processing algorithms that accompany the processor.

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