A Washington think-tank has gone so far as to call the planned cancellation of C-17 heavy transport aircraft production “The Dumbest Weapons Decision of the Decade.” With heavy usage that is accumulating fatigue hours far faster than originally planned, the US Air Force is loath to pay $1.5 billion to close the C-17 line – then pay another $4+ billion to re-open if their decision proves to be too hasty. Not to mention the larger $8+ billion economic effects and lost jobs. Still, the cost of its equipment means that funds are tight, and last-minute Congressional earmarks have been necessary to keep the C-17 line going. Concern has also been expressed that by shuttering the line, the USA is effectively handing the global strategic airlift market over to France and Russia; the Airbus A400M and Russia’s super-giant AN-124 would be the only games in town from 2010-2025, or longer.
Worse, there is almost no confidence in the Pentagon’s 2005 Mobility Requirements Study, whose assumptions hadn’t budged from a 2000 study – before 9/11 and the resulting global war saw airlift usage and flight hours skyrocket, before the Army’s Future Combat Systems’ failure to fit into C-130 transports as promised… before a lot of things happened. Now, as the battle in Washington heats up again, DID offers this updated article, readings – and accompanying interactive Excel spreadsheet – as a contribution to the discussions.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to take research on nitride-based electronic devices and integrated circuits – used in tactical radio systems, phased array radar, and satellite communication – to the next level. Or should we say the NEXT level?
That is the name of their research effort: the Nitride Electronic Next Generation Technology (NEXT) Program. The NEXT program is designed to enable revolutionary advances in nitride electronic devices and integrated circuits resulting in their ability to operate at very high frequencies while maintaining extremely favorable voltage breakdown characteristics.
There’ll be no tweaking of existing technology. On its NEXT Web site, DARPA declares: “Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.” In other words, only Big, Hairy, Audacious Research need apply…
Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business received a $19.8 million contract for the continued production of ALR-69A(V) radar warning receivers for the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
The contract calls for fabrication and testing of 34 digital receivers under the ALR-69A(V) low-rate initial production program. Deliveries of the systems are expected to begin in March 2011 and end in June 2012.
The ALR-69A(V) is currently installed on US Air Force C-130 transport, F-16 fighter, and A-10 close air support aircraft…