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December 14, 2023 | International, Aerospace

Germany spends $2.3 billion on Airbus light attack helicopters

The order includes anti-tank combat configurations, but not for all aircraft.

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  • BAE, Oshkosh to build prototype cold-weather vehicles for U.S. Army

    April 15, 2021 | International, Land

    BAE, Oshkosh to build prototype cold-weather vehicles for U.S. Army

    Oshkosh Defense and BAE Systems were chosen to deliver prototypes of the U.S. Army's next Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle, the companies announced on Wednesday.

  • Air Force Hires Startup To Build Up MDO’s Unified Data Library

    November 1, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    Air Force Hires Startup To Build Up MDO’s Unified Data Library

    By THERESA HITCHENS WASHINGTON: The Air Force is expanding a key data tool, the cloud-based Unified Data Library (UDL), that may underpin the service's ambitious Multi-Domain Operations push. Air Force leaders (including acquisition chief Will Roper) believe the UDL will be able to mesh data from all types of sensors to provide space situational awareness (SSA) and command and control (C2) for most Air Force missions. The small $37 million contract, awarded Tuesday to Bluestaq LLC, will “expand the Advanced Command and Control Enterprise Systems and Software (ACCESS) project for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Data Program Management Office and the Directorate of Special Programs, Space Situational Awareness Division.” ACCESS will feed the UDL, integrating data “from a wide range of sources spanning commercial, foreign, Department of Defense (DoD) and the Intelligence Community (IC),” according to a company press release. The contract, awarded under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, appears to fulfill exactly what Roper and other Air Force acquisition officials are pressing for: drawing in small and innovative companies that can move fast to help the service get inside the speed of Moore's Law instead of taking years or decades to develop new software systems. “We can't specify all specific data sets over the next three years because prioritization is dynamic, but the goal is to eventually integrate all of AFSPC data there along with other sources such as commercial space (already there but more coming), multi-domain data from such as air, land, sea, data from other agencies, and even academia,” an Air Force Space Command spokesperson told Breaking D yesterday. The spokesperson noted that the expansion will support Space Command's National Space Defense Center, designed to run future combat operations in space and to integrate Intelligence Community data with that of the military. It also will support the Combine Space Operations Center (CSPOC), that shares space domain awareness information with allies, the spokesperson said, as well as administrative functions. UDL is the brain child of Maj. Gen. Kim Crider, Air Force Space Command's (AFSPC) data integration guru. Crider is charged with developing AFSPC's classified Enterprise Data Strategy and Roadmap to underpin multi-domain command and control (MDC2) operations. “The Unified Data Library consumes, processes, and distributes millions of unique data products daily originating from dozens of commercial, academic, and government organizations across the world to a diverse user base spanning 25 countries,” according to Bluestaq. “The Unified Data Library storefront provides a robust interactive online API to assist users or developers with education and discovery of available dashboards, data streams, services, structures, and formats. The Air Force plans to expand the Unified Data Library to allow different security classification user access levels and fuse data from all types of sensors to provide command and control for most Air Force missions.” Indeed, AFSPC said in its email, “UDL data is available to any partner organization today, depending on clearance, authorization of the data provider, and classification of the data in question.” The UDL also is being tested by the Commerce Department as it readies itself to take over the mission of providing space situational awareness (SSA) information to commercial and foreign satellite operators. To get some idea of how different the culture is at this company note this comment by Andy Hofle, Bluestaq chief engineer and co-founder: “It has been exciting to see the growing community interest in the data management platform over the last 18 months, and our team has had a tremendous amount of fun playing a role in the development of the project.”

  • Here's the Air Force's plan to revolutionize the way it trains pilots

    May 7, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    Here's the Air Force's plan to revolutionize the way it trains pilots

    Oriana Pawlyk, When Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson visited AFWERX's Pilot Training Next program in Austin, Texas, last year, she watched as trainees took flight from the seats in front of her — through the use of virtual reality. It piqued her interest enough to ask service officials to explore waysthat similar flight simulator programs could be introduced to high schools to get young students involved in the nation's endeavors to create more pilots. Officials with Air Education and Training Command (AETC) are now gearing up to present Wilson's successor with a business case for more widespread use of the system, within the force. The move provides a glimpse into Air Force leaders' thinking as they overhaul the pilot training curriculum, introducing one that augments time airborne in the cockpit with simulators and technology on the ground. It comes as the Air Force readies itself for the possibility of complex conflict with a peer-level adversary equipped with long-range missiles and advanced combat aircraft. It's a future that may represent a strong contrast to recent decades, in which the Air Force has flown in largely uncontested airspace supporting ground troops. The service is attempting to boost its pilot ranks amid a longterm pilot shortage, even as its trainer fleet ages. Air Force officials say they want to move away from the service's old-fashioned, "industrial" approach to training — having pilots sit in classrooms for weeks then moving on to a trainer. This means using virtual reality earlier and more frequently in the training pipeline. As the service prepares to bring its latest trainer, known as the T-X, into the fold, it is proposing a more "concentrated dose" of training to seamlessly transition from virtual reality to the trainer and, finally, to the Formal Training Unit, or FTU. The system is well poised to reform in a few ways, said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command (ACC). Using the low-cost immersive environment of virtual reality, together with "competency-based learning," and moving skillset testing at the graduate level to an earlier place in the model, "would experience our pilots much faster," he said. "Those are two things that are poised to make a revolutionary changein how well we train pilots and in how long it takes us to train pilots," Holmes said Tuesday in an interview with "I want to see how fast and well I can produce experienced pilots." Pilots end up leaving the service if they feel dissatisfied and lack a sense of purpose, added Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, AETC commander. "You have to fly a lot to be good at what you do, and we don't have the money, and we don't have the weather, and we don't have the range space ... [because of] sequestration. And all these things that are politically driven oftentimes are frustrating the force," Kwast said in a separate interview. Airline hiring efforts are the biggest factor that drives pilot retention and production problem in the services, officials have said. Old learning mechanisms also bog down the system, often adding to pilots' frustration, Kwast said. "We would [add] layers of things over time" through the course of a pilot's service, "basically assuming, 'You can't handle the truth!' or 'You're not smart enough to be able to learn this holistically, we have to give it to you piecemeal and then you'd put it together in your brain over time.' That's why it would take seven years to make a great mission commander pilot." But now, he said "We're breaking that paradigm." Trainer fleet in trouble? The service still relies heavily on its trainer fleet for training, even though virtual reality is the new frontier, Holmes said. "There's still no substitute for being in a real airplane," he said. "I think we'll always want a mix of learning our skills cheaply, but also build on decision-making in a real airplane." The T-38 Talon has been the backbone of the Air Force's undergraduate pilot training, or UPT, program for decades. But last year, the trainer fleet was plagued with a series of crashes, two of which were fatal. Those selected to fly bombers and fighters typically receive their advanced pilot training in the T-38. The T-1A Jayhawk, meanwhile, is used in advanced training for students who are slated to go into cargo or tanker aircraft. The T-6 Texan II, used for instrument familiarization and low-level and formation flying, also has had its share of problems. Last year, the Air Force ordered an operational pause for the T-6 fleet after pilots suffered a series of unexplained physiological episodes, or UPEs. As a result, AETC on Feb. 1 ordered an indefinite operational pause for all T-6 aircraft at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma; and Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. That pause was lifted Feb. 28. A team of experts determined that the T-6's On-Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS) filter and drain valvesfailed at higher rates than expected. The discovery led to repairs and increased inspections, but pilotscontinued to suffer from UPEs. A T-6 trainer from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, crashed just last week. The Air Force is preparing to receive new trainer jets to replace its current Northrop Grumman-made T-38s, some of which date to the mid-1960s. In September, the service awarded Boeing Co. a $9.2 billion contract to build its next aircraft for training pilots, known as the T-X program. The first T-X aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. The service has committed to buying 351 T-X jets, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment. The pay ment structure, officials have said, also allows for an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity option to give the Air Force the opportunity to purchase up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators. Delays to this program or other unforeseen challenges could have catastrophic consequences, said retired Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, former Air Force chief of staff. "My anxiety over this when I was the chief [is that] we are one sortie away from this older inventory having a problem," Moseley, an F-15 Eagle pilot, said in a recent interview with "Here we are in 2019, and we're going to fly these airplanes until 2024 before T-X starts coming in." Kwast and Holmes agreed that the T-38 fleet will continue to undergo any upgrades necessary to keep them flying as long as it makes sense. "You can make anything last longer; it just takes more money to sustain," Kwast said. "I guarantee that the T-1, the T-38 and the T-6 all can last as long as we need them to last, depending on the business case and the amount of money you want to spend. But will the T-38 or the T-1 become too expensive, and [therefore], we have to jump to a different technology? Then we would look at other options." Boeing said it stands ready to produce the T-X. "Our T-X program, including engineering, manufacturing and test, is located in long-established Boeing St. Louis facilities," wrote Rachelle Lockhart, spokeswoman for the company's T-X program, in an email. "In fact, we built and assembled our first two T-X aircraft in St. Louis prior to contract award to prove the maturity of our design, repeatability in manufacturing and performance. We're now on contract, executing on schedule as planned, as are our suppliers." She added the trainer's production schedule could be advanced at the Air Force's request. "The US Air Force plan calls for a full production rate of 48 jets a year, and we will meet the customer need," Lockhart said. "Should the Air Force request a higher rate of production, we are well positioned to accommodate it." Full article:

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