Posts Tagged ‘Readiness’

Air Force Perils

March 8, 2009

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The perils of flying aging aircraft was an issue at last February’s Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., and it remained on the mind of Gen. John Corley, Air Combat Command head, at this year’s event. During his presentation Friday, Corley reminded attendees that, this time last year, the Air Force was still in the midst of ascertaining what caused an F-15C to break apart in flight over Missouri in November 2007, and numerous F-15s remain grounded. This year, the rigors of age are continuing to plague the A-10 fleet, Air Force Magazine quotes the general. Corley said 108 A-10s—in a fleet of roughly 350—remain on the ground due to a systemic issue with wing cracks in the thinner winged variant of the aircraft. And, 53 more have yet to be inspected; probably 10 of those will end up grounded, too, he said.

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USAF Pilots “Enjoy” Advantage Thanks to Video Game Training

December 9, 2008
Death Gliders

Death Gliders

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Air Force Research Laboratory’s researchers at Mesa, Ariz., unveiled the technological potential of its gaming research and development project publicly Dec. 1 during the 2008 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Fla. 

Members of the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Warfighter Readiness Research Division blended commercial gaming technology with military-specific databases that demonstrated quicker, less expensive ways to develop the next generation of tools for interactive military training.

The fast-track technology demonstration project began in June when two Thurgood Marshall College Fund interns joined RHA for a summer of hands-on programming experience. Their initial success formed the foundation for a project that clearly depicts how modern gaming technology can help cut development time and costs for critical military distributed mission simulations, said 2nd Lt. Luke Lisa, an aerospace engineer who leads the project.

In six months, researchers integrated high-fidelity real-world aircraft models with existing commercial-off-the-shelf, or COTS, X-Plane gaming software to create a realistic flight simulation program with rich COTS graphics.

“That’s a testimony to how fast we can develop a product with this method,” Lieutenant Lisa said.

Under a pending technology transfer agreement, RHA’s technology will also help improve the fidelity of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s PC-based “RealWorld” Air Combat Environment program, said Craig Eidman, the RHA immersive environment engineering lead.

Building on the gaming industry’s competitive advancements is an approach that makes sense, said 1st Lt. Clinton Kam, an aeronautical engineer also assigned to the project.

“You have this billion-dollar gaming industry and they’re advancing the technology constantly, pushing forward the video cards, the physics cards, the processors,” Lieutenant Kam said. “So our challenge is, how can we leverage their efforts?”

Researchers are interested in how best to get military training value in a fun, aesthetically pleasing game environment that would provide genuine training effectiveness at the low cost of a computer game.

X-Plane software is known for its fluid graphics, realistic depiction of weather including volumetric (3-D) clouds, and attention to detail such as night-time ground lights and highway traffic. But its military aircraft performance is “low fidelity” relative to real aircraft characteristics and that’s where the Air Force tailoring begins.

“Fidelity is how close the flight model of an aircraft fits the real world,” Lieutenant Lisa said. “So if you are flying an F-16 (Fighting Falcon) and you’re pulling a 6G turn, how much energy do you lose in that turn? The bottom line is, the better fidelity, the more realistic the simulation.”

“You don’t want the aircraft to do things it wouldn’t actually do in real life, such as climbing faster than it’s capable of doing,” Lieutenant Kam said, otherwise the result could be “negative training” for the warfighter.

Because Air Force researchers can access validated military data not available to commercial developers, they can ensure that computer-generated military models match real-world profiles, not only for aircraft but also for attributes such as missile trajectory and radar detection. The value of this integration — in terms of fidelity and training relevance — is a new near-term opportunity to examine how games might fit into the continuum of military training methods.

Behavioral scientists already are working on methods and criteria to determine and quantify the fidelity levels required for various training scenarios and how fidelity levels correlate to training effectiveness, said Dr. Winston Bennett, a RHA training and assessment research technical adviser.

Early efforts focused on pilots, but the gaming-integration concept can apply to any scenario, including joint terminal attack controllers who rely on video feeds from an unmanned aircraft system to call in airstrikes.

The Air Force is pushing Department of Defense modeling and simulation systems toward commercial industry’s modular plug-in philosophy that offers more flexibility and user transparency, said 1st Lt. Adam Pohl, a systems engineer.

“Our first objective was an integration proof of concept, showing that tying these packages together can work,” Lieutenant Lisa said. “Now when someone approaches us with a need, they know that gaming has the potential to be leveraged as an alternative approach that saves money and helps meet the warfighters’ need faster.”

John Schutte (AFNS)

Irregular and Regular Warfare Equally Vital to US Military

December 5, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

Our military Aviation Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US and allied military aircraft in action. Buy the Aviation Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

The Pentagon this week approved a major policy directive that elevates the military’s mission of “irregular warfare” — the increasingly prevalent campaigns to battle insurgents and terrorists, often with foreign partners and sometimes clandestinely — to an equal footing with traditional combat.

The directive, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England on Monday, requires the Pentagon to step up its capabilities across the board to fight unconventionally, such as by working with foreign security forces, surrogates and indigenous resistance movements to shore up fragile states, extend the reach of U.S. forces into denied areas or battle hostile regimes.

The policy, a result of more than a year of debate in the defense establishment, is part of a broader overhaul of the U.S. military‘s role as the threat of large-scale combat against other nations’ armies has waned and new dangers have arisen from shadowy non-state actors, such as terrorists that target civilian populations.

“The U.S. has considerable overmatch in traditional capabilities . . . and more and more adversaries have realized it’s better to take us on in an asymmetric fashion,” said Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities, and a chief architect of the policy.

Designed to institutionalize lessons the U.S. military has learned — often painfully — in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, the policy aims to prepare the military for the most likely future conflicts and to prevent the type of mistakes made in the post-Vietnam War era, when hard-won skills in counterinsurgency atrophied.

Read the full WP article

Iraqis make progress on logistics

November 24, 2008

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For a long time, the shortcomings of Iraqi security forces were glaringly obvious in an often underappreciated aspect of war fighting: logistics.

Without a ready supply of spare parts, fuel for vehicles, trained mechanics and ammunition chiefs, combat operations can come to a grinding halt. That’s what happened in 2007, for example, when a group of Iraqi soldiers, en route to a raid on suspected terrorists in the country’s north, got stuck on the roadside. They simply ran out of gasoline.

Logistics are “the lifeblood of any operation,” said U.S. Army Col. Edward Dorman, chief logistician for Multi-National Corps–Iraq.

Dorman has spent the past year trying to eliminate the Iraqi security forces’ weakness in logistics, a shortcoming that has hindered efforts to turn them into a self-reliant military.

Read the full article at S&S

USAF Needs 200 New Aircraft Yearly, Says CoS

October 9, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

Our military Aviation Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US and allied military aircraft in action. Buy the Aviation Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

The US Air Force’s aircraft have been flying, on average, for 24 years, representing the oldest fleet in the service’s 61-year history. This leads to degraded performance, increased accident risk, and huge increases in maintenance costs — money which would be better spent on new equipment and ordnance.

USAF needs to procure 200 new aircraft every year in order to rejuvenate its fleet, says General Norton Schwartz, the new Air Force Chief of Staff. This is almost twice as many planes as USAF currently buys.

Read the entire Air Force Magazine article

Army units honing their conventional war skills

September 10, 2008

Army units spending 18 months or more at home are being asked to spend part of that time honing conventional warfare tactics, Gen. George Casey said Monday.

The move was designed to keep the force in balance and not become too focused on counterinsurgency, typified by the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past seven years, Casey said.

“We are at a point now where I am comfortable, if we had to change gears (to conventional tactics) pretty quickly, we’d be able to,” Casey said.

The Army’s top general said some younger officers think the force has lost its conventional skills and worry events in the world could catch it flatfooted. However, he said older officers who trained for fights with the former Soviet Union understand the need to be proficient in counterinsurgency and stability operations.

He said recent exercises at Fort Riley and other posts have demonstrated that units are proficient in tank, artillery or large infantry movements.

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