Daily Briefing: News Snippets

USJFCOM releases JOE

The United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) recently released its Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2010 report. (See www.jfcom.mil/newslink/storyarchive/2010/pa031510.html to download the report.) U.S. Marines Corps General J.N. Mattis, USJFCOM commander, says JOE “in no way constitutes U.S. government policy and must necessarily be speculative in nature. It seeks to provide the Joint Force an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concepts to guide our future force development” in creating upcoming U.S. policies for worldwide operations (Figure 1). Regarding technology, the report predicts that key advances will continue at an explosive pace through 2030, including Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons, directed energy systems, laser systems, and High Powered Microwave (HPM) weapons. HPM weapons attack electrical systems, electronics, and ICs for ISR and command and control, yet remain nonlethal and nonexplosive in urban environments. Moreover, robotic systems, nanotechnology, and Nanoenergetics (NE) – touted to “dramatically increase the power and efficiency of explosives and propellants” – are also vital to the 2030 battlefield, JOE says.

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Figure 1: The United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) recently released its Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2010 report, which is “speculative in nature” yet provides “an intellectual foundation” for future Joint Force battlefield (and other) strategies.

Partnership serves the Italian Navy

The FREMM European frigate program, a joint effort of Italy and France, will soon benefit from a new partnership between Z Microsystems and Eurolink Systems. The agreement specifies that Z Microsystems will supply the Italy-based Eurolink Systems with Z Microsystems’ ZX rugged computer servers series for the FREMM program, which ultimately includes 10 frigates for the Italian Navy and 17 for the French Navy. Eurolink will then provide Z Microsystems’ ZX1, ZX2, and ZX3 servers to an unidentified “global communication supplier,” who will integrate the MIL-STD-810G compliant servers into FREMM’s onboard computing systems. Z Microsystems’ logical nomenclature designates its three “extended ATX form factor” wares as: ZX1 is 1U high, ZX2 is 2U high, and ZX3 is 3U high.

Friend or foe: The USAF will soon know

Whether in one’s social life or even in business ventures, it’s important to know whether one’s associates are friends or foe. And it’s even more important in military endeavors, where national security is at stake. Accordingly, Raytheon Company recently delivered to the USAF the first incarnation of the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment-compatible KIV-77 Mode 4/5 crypto appliqué computer. Specifically, the KIV-77 computer provides combat-identification capability to warfighters engaging in surface, land, or air combat. KIV-77 is National Security Agency (NSA) Type 1 certified, meaning that it has authority to handle classified information. Meanwhile, Mode 4 signifies legacy applications, while Mode 5 designates next-gen data links, encrypted between transponders and interrogators, to decipher whether an approaching aircraft is friend or foe. The first KIV-77’s delivery was at least 60 days ahead of the contract deadline, Raytheon reports.

VME flies the (un)friendly skies

Some say VME is dead. However, the recent fulfillment of a USAF $6.5 million B-1B bomber (Figure 2) upgrade order by GE Intelligent Platforms indicates VME is still flying high. The upgrade consisted of a Vertical Situation Display Upgrade (VSDU) based on GE’s 6U VME Octegra3 rugged graphics/video processor and the designed-for-Octegra3 VIM2 rugged video input mezzanine. Since the “goods” were delivered early, prime contractor Boeing has a large window of time before VSDU’s flight testing, slated for early 2011. VSDU aims to enforce B-1B aircrew flight safety by providing: 1) a DO-178B certified Board Support Package (BSP), ensuring flight worthiness, thanks to GE subcontractor Ultra Electronics Controls; and 2) “improved protection against hostile action” for the aircrew.

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Figure 2: B-1B Lancer, U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey Hook

Java-enabled combat system passes the test

Modernization is the name of the game for many military programs, and the USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) is a good case in point (Figure 3). Now suited with a Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis Weapon System, CG 52 recently finished its full combat systems’ operational trial. Key to Aegis’ operation is Atego’s Aonix Java-based PERC Ultra virtual machine technology, which renders real-time, deterministic performance and provides virtual machine management and instrumentation tools to fulfill mission-critical needs. Meanwhile, the Aegis Weapon System resides on 92 ships presently in military service worldwide – and is sported by maritime vessels owned by Japan, South Korea, Australia, Norway, and Spain.

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Figure 3: USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), now sporting an Aegis Weapon System, recently finished its full combat systems’ operational trial.

A flurry of contracts appears

Curtiss-Wright (CW) has been busy lately, and is about to get even busier, thanks to three recently announced defense contracts: 1) CW will provide an “approximately $25 million” Advanced Mission Management System (AMMS) to prime contractor Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS). BAMS UAS proffers “persistent” ISR for identification, classification, detection, and tracking of littoral and maritime targets. CW will design and manufacture BAMS UAS AMMS units at its Santa Clarita, CA Motion Control facility with deliveries starting at the end of this year and continuing through next year. 2) A second contract between Northrop Grumman and CW for $10.5 million stipulates that CW produces an upgraded Radar Signal Processing (RSP) ware for the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) program. Work will be performed at CW’s Motion Control divison in San Diego, CA and is one segment of an upgrade to the USAF’s E-8 Joint STARS aircraft’s Radar Airborne Signal Processor (RASP) radar signal processing system. 3) And finally, a $1.17 million contract stipulates that CW provides its rugged, high-altitude capable SANbric Storage Area Network (SAN) to prime MDA in Richmond, BC, Canada. The SAN will then take flight on the CP-140, a Canadian Forces Air Command’s maritime patrol aircraft. CW’s Littleton, MA Electronic Systems facility will produce the MDA SANbric units.

More and more people are getting “smart”

Smartphones are of wide-ranging interest, both to the gadgetized consumer and the military commander, who thinks “if only I could check a sit rep from my iPhone.” Smartphones are also of interest to Forward Concepts, who recently published a 470-page study of related trends, entitled “Smartphone Device & Chip Market Opportunities ’10”. The report indicates that 2009 boasted an 18% growth in worldwide smartphone shipments, rising to $67 billion and 171 million units. Smartphone mobile Internet consumption also rose by 29% in 2009 as compared to 2008. Forward Concepts forecasts that 2010 market share will feature North America leading in smartphone consumption at 22%, followed by Western Europe at 21.6% and China at 17%. Meanwhile, the top 2009 contender for smartphone market share was Nokia, followed by RIM, Apple, and others (Figure 4).

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Figure 4: Top 2009 smartphone vendors

Predator climbs to 1 million

Military tech trend reports indicate that Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) are increasingly being used on the modern battlefield, with flexibility in configuration and the ability to spare human lives as the most critical factors. This technology shift has been validated by a recent milestone: The Predator series of UASs recently reached 1 million flight hours. Trend statistics leading up to the milestone include annual Predator flight hours increasing from 80,000 hours in 2006 to 295,000 last year. The Predator MQ-1B (Figure 5) surpassed 700,000 flight hours this past March, with the remainder of the Predator series marking the other 300,000. Meanwhile, the Predator series includes the B/MQ-9 Reaper, C Avenger, Sky Warrior, and others on active duty with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Army, USAF, U.S. Navy, NASA, the U.K.’s Royal Air Force, and others.

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Figure 5: The Predator MQ-1B, U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sabrina Johnson