Wednesday, August 24, 2016

QinetiQ to integrate unmanned air, sea and subsea vehicles under Dstl contract

Blue Bear Blackstart unmanned aerial vehicle
Blue Bear Blackstart unmanned aerial vehicle
August 17, 2016 - QinetiQ will provide the UK component of a multinational demonstration of unmanned and autonomous systems under a new contract with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
The demonstration, dubbed Hell Bay 4, will see a variety of unmanned underwater, surface and air vehicles working co-operatively within a number of squads, autonomously undertaking mine countermeasures missions.
QinetiQ will lead a team that includes Seebyte, Blue Bear Systems Research and ASV in the exercise, which involves participants from the US, Canada and Australia.
Hell Bay 4 will be delivered under the Maritime Autonomy Framework (MAF), a Dstl-led initiative and development programme that has enabled the UK to participate in a number of regular multinational demonstrations and trials. Phase one of the Framework established software and architecture to test Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV), with Phase Two seeing the integration of an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) into a cooperative squad.
ASV C-Worker 5 unmanned surface vehicle
ASV C-Worker 5 unmanned surface vehicle
QinetiQ is contracted to deliver the third phase of the MAF, in which an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will be introduced into the squad to provide situational awareness and communications relay to vehicles on and under the water. It will bring together underwater vehicles operated by the Royal Navy’s autonomous systems trials team, an unmanned C-Worker 5 surface vehicle provided by ASV and the Blue Bear Blackstart UAV.
The contract win is the fifth in a year for the QinetiQ Maritime Autonomy Centre (QMAC), established in 2013 to accelerate the UK’s adoption of autonomous systems by facilitating their design, development, testing and evaluation.
Hell Bay 4 will take place in Scotland in October as part of Unmanned Warrior, the Royal Navy’s showcase event demonstrating the potential of unmanned and autonomous systems. Unmanned Warrior involves over 40 different organisations and 50 vehicles undertaking challenging military missions in a demanding environment. QinetiQ is leading the Command and Control component of Unmanned Warrior and playing a key role in enabling the overall program.
Seebyte Iver unmanned underwater vehicles
Seebyte Iver unmanned underwater vehicles
Lisa Hunter-Yeats, programme lead said: “We are really excited to be working with Dstl on this important program. MAF has a really strong reputation in pushing the boundaries in maritime autonomy; we have great partners and a strong team and are looking forward to Unmanned Warrior in October.”
Phil Brown, programme lead in Dstl, said: “I am pleased to be working with QinetiQ and their partners and am confident that Hell Bay 4 will be the latest in a series of very successful multinational demonstrations, pushing forward the boundaries in maritime autonomy.”

No First Use of Nuclear Weapons, & More from CRS

Secrecy News Blog Posts – Federation Of American Scientists

Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been publicly released include the following.

NRL Demonstrates New Fiber Laser Sensor Technology for Structural Health Monitoring Systems

August 24, 2016 - Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Optical Sciences Division, in collaboration with the laboratory’s Material Science Division, for the first time have demonstrated successful detection of acoustic emission from cracks in riveted lap joints using a distributed feedback fiber laser-acoustic emission sensor.
“An automated, in-situ structural health monitoring (SHM) system, capable of monitoring key structural parameters such as temperature, strain, impacts and cracks, and capable of reliably detecting damage well before reaching a critical level is needed to increase safety and readiness while lowering operational cost of Navy platforms”
“An automated, in-situ structural health monitoring (SHM) system, capable of monitoring key structural parameters such as temperature, strain, impacts and cracks, and capable of reliably detecting damage well before reaching a critical level is needed to increase safety and readiness while lowering operational cost of Navy platforms” said Dr. Geoffrey Cranch, research physicist, Optical Sciences Division. “At present, none of the services are using in-situ technologies to manage the structural health of their assets.”
To accomplish this goal, sensors that can detect acoustic emission signatures associated with crack initiation and growth, in near real-time, are required. Such a sensor must be smaller and lighter than existing electrical equivalents, possess comparable or improved sensitivity, be easily multiplexed, and achieve all of these components with a small system footprint and high reliability.
Funded partially by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Navy Materials Division, the NRL-developed laser sensor is integrated into a shallow groove formed in the lap joint and consists of a single fiber, similar in width to a human hair. In testing the application, optical and material science researchers installed distributed feedback fiber laser acoustic emission sensors into a series of riveted aluminum lap joints and measured acoustic emission over a bandwidth of 0.5 megahertz (MHz) generated during a two-hour accelerated fatigue test. Measurements were also taken with an equivalent electrical sensor.
The embedded sensors were shown to resolve low-level acoustic events generated by periodic ‘fretting’ from the riveted joint in addition to acoustic emissions from crack formation. Time-lapse imagery of the lap joint enabled correlation of the observed fracture with the measured signals.
In addition to crack detection, the fiber laser sensor also proved capable of measuring compromising impacts, and the potential to integrate with existing fiber optic strain and temperature sensing systems. Combined, this provides a multi-parameter sensing capability for meeting the full operational safety requirements for an SHM system as well as a significantly lower total ownership costs.
“Our research team has demonstrated the ability of this fiber laser technology to detect acoustic emission at ultrasonic frequencies from cracks generated in a simulated fatigue environment,” Cranch says. “The novel part of this work is the fiber laser technology and how it is being applied.”
Acoustic signals from cracks can also be measured using piezoelectric sensors, and this technology has driven the existing work on failure prediction. However, the piezoelectric technology is generally not practical for many applications due to its large size and limited multiplexing capability.
Cranch adds that the technology does have possible applications beyond the military. “Our focus is on Navy platforms, such as aircraft, ships and submarines, but the technology could also be used on civilian aircraft,” he said. “Applications to bridges and buildings are also possible if there are critical parts prone to fatigue and failure that would benefit from continuous monitoring.”
Currently there is no other intrinsic optical fiber sensor capable of matching the performance obtained in the laboratory from the fiber laser acoustic emission sensor. The fiber laser sensor has demonstrated acoustic sensitivity comparable to, or greater than that achieved by existing electrical sensors. This system has now been expanded to multiplex many fiber lasers sensors onto a single fiber. Efforts are currently underway to interpret the acoustic emission data to calculate useful metrics such as probability of failure. Future enhancements include implementing phased array beam forming techniques to enable crack location.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

USS Fort Worth Departs Singapore for San Diego

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) departs Changi Naval Base. Fort Worth is a fast and agile warship tailor-made to patrol the region's littorals and work hull-to-hull with partner navies, providing the U.S. Navy with the flexible capabilities it needs now and in the future. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Madailein Abbott.

August 22, 2016 - Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) departed Changi Naval Base in Singapore Aug. 22, beginning a transit across the Pacific Ocean to her San Diego homeport.
In the last month the "Iron Warriors" of LCS Crew 111 successfully completed a damage control material assessment (DCMA), light-off assessment (LOA), type commander material inspection and sea trials. The assessments were necessary to validate that the ship and crew were ready to return to a fully operational status following the repair to the combining gear casualty which occurred in January.
"I'm very proud of the entire team and our efforts over the past few months as we have worked to get Fort Worth back on-line," said Cmdr. Michael Brasseur, commanding officer, Fort Worth. "It's been a lot of hard work, but our team has performed beyond expectations and we are excited to get this ship back to sea, and ultimately return home to San Diego."
Damage to the ship's combining gears was less extensive than initial investigations suggested. A full assessment revealed that only three bearings needed to be replaced, and the repairs took less time and cost less than originally expected.
Fort Worth will make the journey to San Diego with the use of both main propulsion diesel engines, which reduces the number of underway refueling operations the ship will need during the transit.
"There are a lot of people who worked very hard to get Fort Worth repaired and back out to sea," said Capt. H.B. Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "Their efforts were rewarded today as the ship got underway, fully operational, and ready for her transit across the Pacific."
Prior to the casualty, Fort Worth was a model of reliability for more than a year while deployed in U.S. 7th Fleet. During the first 14 months of her deployment, Fort Worth participated in the search and recovery efforts for AirAsia flight QZ8501, made 12 port visits, and participated in 10 bilateral and multilateral exercises across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
As Fort Worth demonstrated through continuous operations in 2015, littoral combat ships provide an important capability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and planning continues for future LCS deployments. USS Coronado (LCS 4) is slated to replace Fort Worth as the rotationally-deployed LCS in Singapore, and is currently in Pearl Harbor preparing to transit to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations after participating in the recent Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational exercise.

U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.

Former HMS Illustrious set to sail on her final voyage

Official photo

August 23, 2016 - The MOD has announced today that, following an open competition, the former aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is to be recycled.
In 32 years of exemplary service, between 1982 and 2014, HMS Illustrious covered over 900,000 nautical miles. Operations ranged from stabilization efforts in the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf War and delivering humanitarian aid after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013.
In October 2013, the MOD launched a competition to seek innovative bids to retain the aircraft carrier in the UK. The aim of the competition was to see part or all of the ship developed for heritage purposes and, while a number of bids were received, none proved to be viable.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said, "We have done all we can for over two years to find a home for the former HMS Illustrious in the UK, and regrettably all options have now been exhausted.
It is with a sense of pride for her and her crews’ achievements that we say goodbye to the ship, and we look forward to the arrival in Portsmouth of the UK’s next generation of aircraft carriers."
The ship has now been sold to Turkish company LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd for around £2 million.
Both Invincible and Ark Royal, the sister ships of Illustrious, were also recycled. It is anticipated that Illustrious will leave Portsmouth for Turkey in the autumn of this year, ahead of the arrival of the first of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2017. The QEC aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, will transform the Royal Navy’s ability to project our influence overseas, able to respond to crises, while promoting our prosperity and British values globally.
Mike Utley, former Commanding Officer on HMS Illustrious, said, "Lusty provided a world-class service to the Royal Navy for over three decades. We will bid her farewell with a heavy heart but in the knowledge that everything has been done to find a use for her.

"As the former aircraft carrier gets ready to leave Portsmouth, so we can look to the future and the arrival of the new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, which will ensure that the Royal Navy continues to be a pre-eminent maritime power in the modern world."

Rockwell Collins first to demonstrate modernized Wideband HF air-to-ground connectivity in live flight test

Rockwell Collins

August 23, 2016 - An industry first, Rockwell Collins completed the complex data transfer from a C-17 airborne aircraft to a ground station over a Wideband High Frequency (WBHF) channel. Rockwell Collins collaborated with the U.S. Air Force to prove the viability of WBHF data transfer over the duration of a two-day flight, between Dover AFB Delaware and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, using a Wideband HF Receiver-Exciter configured for airborne operation.
“WBHF is a highly reliable solution for the transfer of data, including video, and the perfect complement to traditional SATCOM communications in denied environments,” said Mike Jones, vice president and general manager, Navigation & Electronic Warfare Solutions, “The result is a low-cost replacement that leverages the platform’s current HF system infrastructure to create an HF solution with performance never before available.”
During the demonstration, the transfer included streaming video, real-time chat, file transfers and digital voice audio. By testing the capabilities over the course of two days, teams were able to prove performance and reliability with changing variables such as environment, geographical position and time of day. During this demonstration communication links were made, and data passed over a distance of more than 1,500 miles.
WBHF offers the highest data throughput in comparison to legacy HF and complements satellite communications, moving information quickly with the highest fidelity as possible, even in satellite-limited or denied environments. WBHF upgrades can greatly increase performance and capacity of current HF infrastructure.
Military commanders, tanker operators, agencies and Department of Defense services can benefit from WBHF in several ways such as uninterrupted, large file transfer with speeds up to comparable to narrowband SATCOM systems, elimination of vulnerability and availability issues, and enhanced voice capabilities with cellular quality communications.
Rockwell Collins has been a leader in HF technology since 1933, supplying HF communications equipment to U.S. and allied military forces. One hundred percent of today’s USAF bomber, tanker and airlift fleets operate Rockwell Collins’ current generation HF radio systems. WBHF technology is the only modernized HF solution that will deliver net-centric, high-speed communications at costs that are in line with today’s tighter military budgets.

Radio Holland signs global reseller agreement for shipznet

Radio Holland 3G SATCOM

August 17, 2016 - bobz GmbH (Hamburg) and Radio Holland (Rotterdam) have announced their partnership agreement today. shipznet, an innovative development of bobz GmbH, offers a high speed mobile network service for merchant shipping, through a world-wide monthly flat rate near-shore and in harbors, without additional roaming costs. Radio Holland, renowned for its global network and NavCom, Connectivity and Maintenance solutions, sees shipznet as a valuable extension of its connectivity portfolio. At the SMM Exhibition in Hamburg Radio Holland will present the shipznet solution at stand no. B6-200.

“With the shipznet solution our customers are able to switch from satellite communication to the mobile network, up to 30km from the coast. The main benefits for our customers are the substantially higher speed compared to current satellite communication and the cost savings compared to FleetBroadband”, says Armin Holkers, Business Line Manager Ship to Shore.

Additional bandwidth near shore

shipznet complements current VSAT solutions by offering a cost effective high-speed data connection. When approaching the shore, onboard communication systems will switch from the (unlimited) VSAT satellite to the mobile network that enables a higher bandwidth. In case of FleetBroandband fleet management will also notice cost savings due to shipznet’s lower monthly subscription fees. Furthermore, shipznet is also an effective standalone solution for near-coast sailing.

Shipznet crew solution

With the shipznet crew solution, buying individual pre-paid SIM cards for each country is no longer necessary. The crew solution of bobz GmbH offers the crew a comfortable way of communicating with family and friends, by using vouchers. When the contingent is used up, it can be recharged with the shipping company or the Master.

“With Radio Holland, we have connected to a partner who is a well-known global services company. We are convinced that this partnership is a big step to market shipznet successfully worldwide” says Claudia Bobzin, Managing Director of bobz GmbH. “Communication demands of today’s shipping industry have increased immensely. shipznet is a world-wide solution for communication and supports shipping companies with reducing their communication costs.”