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March 17, 2023 | International, Naval

Marines accelerate Force Design transformation in FY24 budget request

The commandant also previewed his wish list, which will go to lawmakers later this month.

On the same subject

  • USAF Slashes Helo Training Time With Virtual Reality

    October 17, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    USAF Slashes Helo Training Time With Virtual Reality

    By using virtual reality (VR) devices, the U.S. Air Force's 23rd Flying Training Squadron (FTS) at Fort Rucker, Alabama, has slashed flying time by 35 percent, given students 15 hours of additional practice time with aircraft controls, and cut the time needed to complete undergraduate pilot training by six weeks for the first six students using the experimental program. The 23d FTS is responsible for all Air Force undergraduate rotary-wing pilot training and is a geographically separated unit under the 58th Special Operations Wing (SOW) at Kirtland (New Mexico) AFB. It is the sole entry point for Air Force careers in the Bell UH-1N, Sikorsky HH-60G, and Bell-Boeing CV-22 tiltrotor. The experimental training program began in 2017 when the squadron found internal training efficiencies that led to a 25 percent increase in overall student pilot production. They decided to take their innovation efforts further by combining technology and innovation. The squadron initially stood up the program with six VR systems loaded with software for a Bell 412, paid for with $350,000 in 58th SOW innovation funds. Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training-Helicopter (SUPT-H) class 20-02 was the first class to use the VR training systems starting in May 2019. The students' introduction to VR took place during the initial 19-day academics portion of the curriculum. “After 23.5 hours of VR instruction, students were able to hover, taxi, and perform various other helicopter maneuvers unassisted by their instructor pilots on their very first flight [in an actual aircraft],” said Capt. Matt Strick, 23rd FTS innovation flight lead. “We assessed the students to be at least seven days ahead of schedule at that point.” The initial goal of the project, called “Project da Vinci” or "Rotary-Wing Next," was reducing the time needed to teach the syllabus from 28 weeks to 14 weeks and to increase student production from 60 to 120 students a year without needing additional aircraft or flying hours. “We're seeing the vast potential of this program unfold right in front of us,” said Lt. Col. Jake Brittingham, 23rd FTS commander. “This is just the start,” he said. “We are focused on ensuring we continue to get even more efficient with our training, while at the same time maintaining the quality of our graduates the Air Force needs and expects.” The program's VR software is being updated to reflect the unit's Bell TH-1H primary trainer. “The [VR] acquisition proved challenging because of federal computer purchasing laws and limitations and took some time and effort between us, the 42nd Contracting Squadron at Maxwell AFB, 19th AF, and the 338th Specialized Contracting Squadron at Randolph AFB to make the initial purchase,” Brittingham said. “We really couldn't have done this in eight months without the help of the contracting team enabling us to make these purchases smarter and faster.”

  • Raytheon to challenge Lockheed’s takeover of Aerojet, CEO says

    February 18, 2021 | International, Aerospace

    Raytheon to challenge Lockheed’s takeover of Aerojet, CEO says

    Raytheon Technologies plans to challenge Lockheed Martin’s proposed $4.4 billion takeover of Aerojet Rocketdyne with the U.S. government, says CEO Greg Hayes.

  • German, French defense ministers push for Eurodrone progress

    September 21, 2020 | International, Aerospace, C4ISR, Other Defence

    German, French defense ministers push for Eurodrone progress

    Sebastian Sprenger COLOGNE, Germany — The defense ministers of Germany and France have pushed for speedy progress in the Eurodrone program, urging member nations to initiate the aircraft's development phase before the end of the year. The high-level endorsement means a shot in the arm for a weapons program that has slipped under the radar since Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo unveiled a mock-up drone at the April 2018 Berlin Air Show. While French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said she hopes to see the next phase begin by year's end, her German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, expressed hope any outstanding issues, which mostly involve cost, could be resolved “in the next few weeks.” The two leaders spoke at Manching, Germany, Airbus' hub for the Eurodrone project and a company site for another key European program, the Future Combat Air System. The unmanned aircraft's official name is “European MALE RPAS,” using acronyms for medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft system. The pan-European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation manages it on behalf of Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The drone program sets out to field the first new unmanned aircraft certified to fully integrate into civilian airspace, though European authorities have not yet finalized the requisite regulatory framework. Company officials hope that key design features of the drone, such as a propulsion system of two engines — one as a fallback, if necessary — will be conducive to passing future safety checks. That means the technology could cut into the business strategy of American competitor General Atomics. The company aims to be the first to sell its drones, complete with automatic collision-avoidance kit, to Europeans. Officials at the German Defence Ministry did not immediately return a request for comment on how soon the government plans to present a financing and contract strategy to lawmakers — a prerequisite for letting the effort proceed. It remains to be seen if the weapons-capable Eurodrone, whose primary mission is intelligence gathering, will get wrapped up in Germany's debate on the ethical aspects of arming aerial and ground robots. Another program, the Israeli-made Heron TP drone, is still awaiting decision by Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, on whether the government can proceed with installing weapons on the aircraft. The German military is using the drones to watch over deployed forces under a leasing agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries. They are operationally managed by Airbus. It's possible that the Heron TP armament decision will be presented to the Bundestag first, thus capping what a Defence Ministry official told Defense News will likely be a lengthy public meditation on drones and war. But that sequence of approvals is not automatic, Airbus hopes. Either way, time is of the essence for the Defence Ministry, with election years looming in Germany and France starting in 2021. “It would be surprising if we had the Eurodrone first,” said Ulrike Franke, a London-based analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Because it would amount to a signal that the Heron TP decision had been needlessly stalled.” Questions surrounding the program include whether it can provide enough utility beyond offerings already on the market, including American-made hardware, Franke said. Its success also depends on countries purchasing the future drone in sufficient quantities to get the envisioned benefits of greater European interoperability, she added.

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