Posts tagged ‘Navy’
By Land, Sea or Air.
The military is exploring ways that unmanned systems from helicopters to submarines can be used to transport supplies in hostile or dangerous areas.
Last year, Lockheed Martin and Kaman’s unmanned K-MAX helicopter returned from nearly three years of transporting cargo for the Marine Corps in Afghanistan — the first unmanned helicopter to do so.
With their supply truck convoys frequent targets of roadside bombs and insurgent attacks, the Marines were looking for a safer alternative. K-MAX’s cargo transportation was able to take an estimated 900 trucks off the road and their drivers and escorts out of harm’s way.
But transporting supplies isn’t limited to unmanned aircraft. Manned ground vehicles–from small, rugged all-terrain vehicles to heavy cargo trucks are being converted into autonomously operating vehicles.
The same is true of the optionally manned Proteus, a dual mode underwater vehicle that can deliver special operations forces swimmers or their equipment and supplies to shore from a submerged submarine.
Originally developed by as a swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) for up to six Navy SEALS, Proteus, a massive 8,000-pound submersible, is now being leased by the Navy for testing as a dual mode vehicle that can operate as manned SDV or a cargo-carrying unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). “The idea of using it as an unmanned mule is very feasible,” says George Geoghegan, maritime systems manager for Battelle — which together with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries — owns and operates Proteus.
The almost 26-foot-long Proteus has 170 cubic feet of space in its cargo area and exterior side rails that can carry bulkier cargo although the maximum total payload is limited to 1,100 pounds. Cargo will either have to be sealed in watertight packaging or be water resistant because the cabin is flooded when underway as part of its original mission to allow divers to enter and exit the vehicle while submerged. But that means there’s more room for payload.
Powered by 20 lithium polymer batteries that weigh about 100 pounds each when underway, Proteus has a range of about 350 nautical miles at an energy-saving low speed of 3 knots, and a maximum speed of 9 knots fully-loaded, according to Geoghegan. Like an SDV, Proteus can be transported to a denied area in the dry deck shelter of a submarine. It can work at depths of 150 feet when manned, 200 feet unmanned.
Unmanned, the vessel can be pre-programmed to run underwater from point to point but it does not have obstacle avoidance capability. However, Geoghegan says that’s just another payload that can be added.
Polaris Defense offers their entire line of rugged ground vehicles as capable of manned or unmanned operation. “We build our vehicles with the ability to be optionally unmanned. And it’s everything from tele-operated to fully unmanned,” said General Manager Rich Haddad, adding “we’re not an autonomy company. We’re agnostic about whose autonomy package goes on the vehicle.”
But the company has acquired a ground guidance software package called Primordial “that could easily morph into a mission planning type of capability. We are integrating that into our vehicle but it is not in itself an autonomy package,” Haddad said.
Polaris supplies a range of all terrain vehicles for elements of U.S. Special Operations Command.
Polaris supplied the ground vehicles that contestants were required to drive in DARPA’s Robotic Challenge to identify robots that could perform human tasks in disasters. And a Polaris 6×6 vehicle was converted by TORC Robotics into the autonomous and semi-autonomous Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) that is being studied by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab.
To read more on this topic, click here to see our story in Military Logistics Forum magazine’s September issue (pages 8-9).
Staying Ahead of the Threat 2015.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VIRGINIA — In the 21st Century, the U.S. Marine Corps will confront a number of challenges, like the hybrid warfare seen in eastern Ukraine and the rise of teeming coastal mega cities around the world, according to a panel of generals and colonels speaking at this year’s Modern Day Marine expo.
In opening the panel discussion on building the future Marine Corps by harnessing innovation, Lieutenant General Robert Walsh noted hybrid warfare was on the rise around the globe in Syria, Iraq and “going on in Ukraine right now.” The hybrid battlefield contains a mix of non-state actors (guerrillas or foreign volunteers) combined with regular military and “state capabilities” like precision weaponry and high tech communications and propaganda methods. “We’ve got to be able to stay ahead of the threat” through innovation, said Walsh, deputy Marine commandant for Combat Development and Integration.
“The new normal was Benghazi,” said Lieutenant General Ron Bailey, deputy commandant for Plans Policies and Operations. As Libya slid into chaos the Marines had to mobilize a special purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force to handle a rapidly disintegrating situation on the ground, in the air and at sea. In the future, Marines will have to be prepared to fight in five battlespaces: air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, Bailey said.
The hybrid warfare in Ukraine “is the reality of the fight we will have to fight” against soldiers in uniforms mixed in with local citizens and volunteers (the so-called Little Green Men, who were believed to be Russian soldiers in mufti). “We need non-lethal weapons that will enable us to fight among the people” and still be able to take out enemy threats, Bailey added.
The future battlefield will probably look nothing like Afghanistan and Iraq, where Marines have been fighting for the last 14 years. Instead, urban areas near the sea and river deltas will be the most likely environment, said another panelist, Brigadier General Dale Alford, commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. And that environment will be “complex, congested, cluttered, contested, connected (with the cyber world), constrained and coastal,” he said. The world population is moving towards the cities and 75 percent of the world’s largest cities are in the developing world – many of them in the littoral areas close to the sea.”That’s where our Marines are going to fight. That’s where we’re going to have to operate,” he added.
Pointing at a slide showing images of recent conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa, Alford noted the Marines will have to deal with challenges like iPADs and Google Earth being used to direct mortar attacks, off-the-shelf unmanned quad copters being used by terrorists and insurgents for surveillance and reconnaissance, MANPADs (shoulder-fired ground- to-air missiles) “in the hands of teenagers.”
Like other panel members, Alford said innovation and new techniques bubble up from below, from junior officers and sergeants and corporals who are in the fight. “We need our young pups out there to innovate and figure out how we’re going to do this,” he added. Panel members also called on industry to provide technical solutions for these new challenges.
A video on the topic, a hot one in NATO circles, is here.
[UPDATES to restore dropped word ‘Corps’ in dateline, expand definition of hybrid war, add detail to “cluttered, coastal environment” explanation and recast headlines to reflect changes.]
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VIRGINIA — We went south of Washington this week for a first-time visit to the Modern Day Marine (MDM) expo and confrence.
Unlike massive military and industry conferences like the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space in April and the Association of the U.S. Army gathering next month in Washington, Modern Day Marine is held outdoors (in large air conditioned tents) instead of in a huge convention center. Even the panel discussions conducted by Marine Corps brass are held in a very big tent with folding chairs on temporary flooring.
At the first panel discussion, several generals and a couple of colonels talked about the importance of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), pronounced MAGTAF. It’s the Corps’ basic expeditionary force that can put Marines ashore via landing craft, helicopters — or both — as part of a rapid response to a crisis. We’ll discuss this more over the weekend.
But we want to get to the four monster amphibious vehicles on display facing each other in one of the expo’s big tents.
For years the Marine Corps has been looking for a replacement for its aging Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), a tracked landing craft that has been around since the 1970s. Five companies are competing for the contract to build the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) to replace the AAV.
The original planned replacement vehicle, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), was cancelled in 2011 by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates for being too expensive and behind schedule.
Now the Marines are looking for a big vehicle that can carry at least 10 Marines (beside an operating crew of three), get them to the beach from a ship as much as 12 nautical miles off shore, at a speed of at least 6 knots. The ACV will have to be as rugged and protective as a tank but be able to carry troops far inland quickly, if necessary.
Lockheed Martin unveiled its offering for the first time on Tuesday (September 22). Like all of the others on display, it is an 8×8 behemoth. The desert tan vehicle can carry as many as 13 Marines as well as a three-person crew.
BAE Systems, which makes the current AAV, is hoping to replace it with its entry displayed in forest camouflage colors.
Science Applications International Corporation, better known as SAIC, had its gray Terrex 2 vehicle on display. The Terrex can carry 11 passengers plus a crew of three.
Last but not least was a solid green 8X8 from General Dynamics.
Also in the hunt for the ACV program — but not at MDM — is a team consisting of of Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems and St Kinetics, a Singapore company.
The Marines are expected to select two vehicles from the five offerings in November. Each company will then provide 16 vehicles to be tested in all types of climes and conditions.
[More on Modern Day Marine this weekend. Stay tuned.]
High Tech Help for Wounded Warriors?
Improvements in body armor and vehicle explosive protection design have led to fewer fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan than in previous conflicts. But the survivors of roadside bombs and other explosions are still suffering catastrophic wounds and severe burns.
Now another technology breakthrough — additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3-D printing — holds great promise for helping rebuild tissue, bone and muscle.
Additive manufacturing is already expected to have a profound effect on U.S. Army logistics and supply. Officials like Dale Ormond, director of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), say it’s conceivable to imagine “the possibilities of three-dimensional printed textiles, metals, integrated electronics, biogenetic materials and even food,” he wrote in Army Technology magazine’s 3-D Printing issue.
And researchers today are beginning to manufacture biological materials like biopapers for regenerative skin cells and prototypes of replacments for external body parts like ears. “Many of the injuries soldiers receive in the field are not traditional. A lot of the medical community sees this as a new approach to medicine,” says Thomas Russell, director of the Army Research Laboratory. “We can 3-D scan injuries. We can replicate what those injuries are,” Surgeons and medics can practice on those specific types of injuries and provide better service to the warfighter, he adds.
A team of scientists at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is studying how to map a wound or severe burn with a laser and then print skin cells onto the patient using a 3-D bioprinter. Meanwhile, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed and patented thin polymer/hydrogel scaffold sheets, or “biopapers,” which act as substrates—the surface on which organisms grow–for cell and bioprinting.
To read more of this story and learn more about 3-D printing and other breakthroughs in military medicine, visit the free content page on the military healthcare link. The Institute for Defense and Government Advancement is sponsoring a conference on military healthcare in Arlington, Virginia in December.
This is not a photo of a flooded underground parking garage. This is actually the inside of a Navy ship: the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans.
Here we see Seaman Elana Hunter, a boatswain’s mate, signaling Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) to launch from the ship’s well deck during Exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 in the Pacific Ocean off the California Coast. The well deck is where amphibious vehicles like these AAVs, first meet the sea as they head down a ramp in the amphib’s rear (stern) that opens out onto open water. (See photo below)
Dawn Blitz is a Navy and Marine Corps training exercise to practice amphibious task force operations while also building interoperability between U.S. and coalition forces, which this year, include military units from Japan, Mexico and New Zealand. The New Orleans is a San Antonio class amphib.
It’s Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer in the United States and the day American working men and women take part in parades and rallies to acknowledge what their predecessors have done to make working conditions safe and compensation fair — while calling attention to how much still needs to be done. Meanwhile, the rest of the country — perhaps pausing briefly to think about their jobs and the meaning of work — takes one last three-day-weekend at the beach, the mountains or the backyard before the fall season starts in earnest.
At 4GWAR, we thought we’d pause to take a look at some of the jobs people do in the military that don’t get a lot of attention. Not everybody in the military hits the beach, fires a big gun, flies a plane or jumps out of one. So here is a short look at the less glamorous — but still important — jobs to keep the U.S. military ready and able to meet the next challenge — whatever and wherever it is.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Saber Barrera, with 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron firetruck and refueling maintenance, works with a co-worker to replace an engine starter in Southwest Asia. These airmen are working in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led effort with partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the so-called Islamic State.
Two sailors, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Roots Semaj, left, and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Sharul Mahdsharif load a missile into a RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The Reagan, and its carrier air wing, provides a combat-ready force protecting maritime interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.
Staff Sgt. David Hoyt, a KC-130J loadmaster with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152, guides a MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft into place for air-delivery ground refueling training aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. This kind of refueling operation is usually conducted in an austere environment where an air strip or fuel is not available.
Specialist Wright Small, petroleum supply specialist, assigned to Detachment 1, D Company, 1st Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, refuels a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at the Army Aviation Facility, in South Burlington, Vermont.
Capturing the Action.
Canadian Master Corporal Kevin Mcmillan, assigned to Canadian Forces Combat Camera, documents combat troops training during Fleet Combat Camera Pacific’s Summer Quick Shot 2015 (video here).
McMillan is assigned to Canadian Forces Combat Camera.
Quick Shot is a semi-annual exercise that improves combat camera photographers’ abilities to operate in a tactical environment. In other words they learn to shoot guns and well as imagery for when they are on assignmnt with front line troops
The combined U.S.-Canadian joint field training exercise took place last month (August) in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa, California.