Giuseppe Ceracchi: “Minerva as the Patroness of American Liberty”
In this day and age, more people associate “Minerva” with a strict teacher at a fictional wizard’s school than with Rome’s incarnation of Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and war. As “WIRED: A Different Kind of Net-Centric Warfare in Iraq” revealed, however, Minerva’s ancient incarnation remains very relevant today. “The surge” in Iraq is best known for its increase in the number of American troops, but that was actually its least significant feature. Its most significant feature was a major shift in the way the Americans fought the war, using a counterinsurgency doctrine that acted on the lessons from successes like Malaysia – and on newer insights from social scientists embedded with the American military. See also General Petraeus’ December 2008 remarks in Washington [Transcript | Slideshow].
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has previously served as the president of Texas A&M University. Under his watch, the US DoD has unveiled The Minerva Initiative to foster longer-term research that’s relevant to the national security community. Now the first awards have been made under that program…
The Korean Times reports that South Korea is looking to improve its Coast Guard, which currently consists of 15 helicopters and just one patrol plane. To that end, a contract has been signed with Indonesia’s Dirgantara for 4 CN-235-100 aircraft, at a cost of about $92 million. The CN-235-110 uses GE’s CT7-9C engines, but lacks features like the pressurized cabins, aerodynamic improvements, and range extensions found on subsequent versions.
Our editor’s recent visit to Tucson paid off in a number of ways, from useful interviews and research at Raytheon to our annual conversations with the world’s most experienced intelligence professional. (How does he see us when we’re sleeping? Then again, we’re not sure we want to know.)
DID wishes our readers a Merry Christmas, and a happy holiday season.
Survivable Laser-guided Exactitude Integrated Gift Handling system
“Virginia Block III: The Revised Bow” explains the program history and cost targets for the USA’s future Virginia Class nuclear submarine fleet, while detailing the new “six shooter” bow design.
Now Christmas has come early for General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation in Groton, CT, thanks to a $14.011 billion fixed-price incentive multi-year contract. Working with their partner Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, the firm will be the lead contractor for 8 new Virginia Class submarines, as the Navy orders SSN 784 – SSN 791 between FY 2009 – FY 2013. The USS North Dakota [SSN 784] will be the first fielded example of the new Virginia Class Block III configuration, which has been redesigned in ways that improve its flexibility while reducing its costs…
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace recently announced a contract with the Brazilian navy for an unspecified number of Penguin Mk 2 MOD 7 anti-ship missiles and associated equipment, valued at about NOK 140 million/ $20 million. The missiles will be deployed on the Brazilian Navy’s maritime helicopters. Their “AH-11A” Super Lynx models are certified for the missile, but the official Dec 22/08 notice [PDF, Portuguese] refers to the Marinha do Brazil’s new S-70B Seahawks as the designated platform.
The Penguin Mark 2 Mod 7 is a relatively small anti-ship missile with a very distinctive profile. Its boost-sustain solid fuel rocket motor gives the 120 kg/ 260 pound sub-sonic missile a maximum range of 34 km/ 21 miles, using inertial navigation and a passive infrared seeker for no-warning guidance. It can take an oblique path to the target, turning up to 180 degrees around a waypoint; and also can perform random weaves before striking the target at the waterline, or popping up and diving into it. The Penguin Mark 2 Mod 7 is operational on helicopters of the Norwegian, US (AGM-119B), Australian, Greek, Turkish, and South Korean navies.
Over the past year, both Norway and the Netherlands have both held competitions for their F-16 fighter replacements. EADS pulled its Eurofighter out of the Norwegian competition in December 2007, amidst rumors that they believed the competition was fixed to a pre-determined outcome. Norway’s recent decision, and the follow-on presentation by Saab’s CEO, certainly add credence to that perception.
The Norwegian competition featured a simulation as an important centerpiece of the competition. The Dutch competition also featured simulations, alongside a comparative study of the F-16 Block 60+, JAS-39NG Gripen, and F-35A. A study whose findings have become a key milestone to the Dutch IOT&E decision, and to its future fighter choice.
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Saint Paul, MN received a $525.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for AN/UYQ-70V Advanced Display Systems.
These systems are part of the Q-70 family of naval displays, computing enclosures, and accompanying software solutions. The Q-70 family is widely used in U.S. Navy applications, and can be found on sea, land, and airborne military platforms. Q-70 gear is also used in naval systems operated by Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Spain. There is also a Q-70 Technology Insertion program, which provides a framework to identify, monitor, and accelerate the introduction of improved commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies.
Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%), Clearwater, FL (30%), and St. Paul, MN (10%), and is expected to be complete by August 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the US DoD’s current fiscal year. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport in Keyport, WA manages the contract (N00024-05-D-5130).
Canadian Helicopters, Ltd. is a firm that provides helicopter services for use in oil & gas, mining and forestry, emergency medical services, police support, and other tasks that include support for the Canadian Forces’ North Warning System. These industries and roles require flight into and through remote areas, while contending with difficult weather and terrain in order to get the job done.
To that end, Canadian Helicopters operates a diverse fleet of Bell Textron, Eurocopter, and Sikorsky platforms. They also operate the Canadian Helicopters School of Advanced Flight Training, which trains elite military and police pilots as part of their customer base. According to the firm, the Commander of the US Navy Helicopter Special Warfare Squadron describes this training as “best in the world”.
That experience and expertise is about to come in very handy, because the firm’s operations will now extend to Afghanistan. As “Allies Absent in Afghanistan – Hummingbird Helicopters Hired” noted back in August 2007, a shortage of helicopters committed by key US allies is forcing the Pentagon to turn to private contractors, in order to cover the shortfall in theater.
Alcatel-Lucent SA has accumulated losses of EUR 4.8 billion since 2006. As part of its efforts to refocus itself and improve its financial position, the firm has sold its 20.78% stake in major defense electronics firm Thales SA to Dassault Aviation SA of St. Cloud, France.
The sale price is reported to be EUR 38 per share, or about EUR 1.57 billion (about $2.25 billion). Dassault already owns 5.2% of Thales, but this purchase will make it Thales’ second largest shareholder after the French government’s 27.1%. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and the standard caveats, but that is not expected to be a problem. In a separate statement, France’s Finance Ministry said it has struck a shareholder pact with Dassault Aviation that is nearly identical to the one the state had with Alcatel-Lucent. After the acquisition, the French state and Dassault Aviation will control 53% of Thales’ capital, and 61% of its voting rights.
Bernard M. “Barney” Oliver was HP’s director of research for 3 decades, from 1952 to 1981. His list of patents, engineering achievements, and science awards was bogglingly large, and included many of the most prestigious awards in these fields. He was also a stickler for the proper use of English; and for clear communication that could move people by answering the “why?” questions, even as it informed them by answering the “what and how?”. That talent was one of many things that set him apart from his peers.
His most lasting achievement is related to that talent. The 1971 Project Cyclops report [PDF format, 14.5 MB | Print version] laid out the basis for theories of intelligent life in the universe, and was instrumental in the creation of NASA’s famous SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project.
Time may tell us how many of SETI’s premises turn out to be true. Until those verdicts are rendered, Dr. Oliver’s work is offered as a fascinating read – and a gold standard for excellent written communication in the aerospace, engineering, and technical policy fields.