A February 2008 Pentagon DefenseLINK story touted the progress of prosthetic limb development, fueled by a combination of combat need and the steadily advancing capabilities inherent in modern electronics and robotics. Army Col. Geoff Ling manages DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics programs.
For instance, researchers at Dean Kamen’s DEKA Research and Development Corp. in Manchester, NH (inventors of the Segway, the stair-climbing iBot wheelchair, and those PowerSwim fins that I want), have developed a “strap-and-go-arm” that requires no surgery, just 1-2 hours of training. The process of picking up a pen, key, coffee cup, or power drill obviously differs. Embedded electronics in DEKA’s arm enable the wearer to activate a switch with a foot or chin, to cycle through 5 different gripping actions to match the task at hand. One tester who lost his arm at the shoulder was reportedly able to field strip and reassemble an M-16 rifle using the prosthesis, which comes in 3 models:  amputees who have lost a complete arm,  amputations above the elbow, and  amputations below the elbow. See a picture here.
A recent program begins the first large-scale testing of an advanced artificial arm that can pick up a key or hold a pencil…
BAE Systems Australia and L-3 MAS Canada received a contract from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to provide long-term maintenance and modification support for the RAAF’s F/A-18 Hornet fighters. The 4-year initial contract period (2009-2012) has extension options until 2018 and has a potential total value of approximately AUD$150 million ($120 million equivalent). According to Wikipedia, which cites Flight International, the RAAF had 55 F/A-18A and 16 F/A-18Bs in operation as of late 2008.
BAE Systems Australia’s Managing Director Jim McDowell said the contract was a key element in sustaining the fast jet support capability. BAE Systems is building new facilities at RAAFB Williamtown, which will provide the basis for future support not only of the RAAF Hornet aircraft but also the Joint Strike Fighter that will eventually replace them. BAE Systems is also expanding its workforce by another 40 positions at RAAFB Williamtown. Defpro | Montreal Gazette.
RAAF Base Williamtown is located 14 kilometers (9 miles) north of Newcastle, New South Wales. Williamtown is currently home to F/A-18 Hornet fighters (No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, No. 3 Squadron, and No. 77 Squadron), BAE Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighters (No. 76 Squadron), and Pilatus PC-9 training aircraft operated by the Forward Air Control Development Unit.
Honeywell will perform the work at the Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, FL (86%); aboard 16 maritime prepositioning ships (12%); and in six locations in Norway (2%), and expects to complete the work in September 2009 (or September 2018 if all options are exercised). This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps.com (solicitation number M67004-08-R-0001), with 5 offers received by the Contract Support Management Office’s Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, FL (M67004-09-D-0020).
Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received an $8.2 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for depot level repair, maintenance, and post-production services for the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). Raytheon will be required to repair, modify, calibrate, test, certify and evaluate HARM missiles, missile sections, assemblies, subassemblies and related equipment and provide related technical data for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and Foreign Military Sales customers.
The AGM-88 HARM is an air-to-surface tactical missile designed to seek out and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems…
Chile’s 16 upgraded F-5E/F+ Tiger II lightweight fighters are very old, and are slated for decommissioning in 2009. Its Mirage 50CN Panteras have already been retired. The country is looking to used F-16s as a replacement, in order to maintain its fighter strength.
The FACh’s current F-16 fleet currently includes 10 advanced F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft bought from the USA, and another 18 F-16A/B Mid-Life Upgrade aircraft bought from the Netherlands for $180 million. Unsurprisingly, Chile believes that a reprise of their Dutch deal would represent a fine solution.
DID’s Latin American correspondent Inigo Guevara has some additional comments…