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GAO: ACTIONS NEEDED TO ENHANCE FRIENDLY FORCE TRACKING CAPABILITIES AND FULLY EVALUATE TRAINING
Thursday, January 21, 2021
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.Source: GAO


Source: GAO


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WASHINGTON -- The Department of Defense (DOD) has made progress implementing initiatives to enhance capabilities that are used to identify friendly force locations during close air support (CAS) missions, but GAO identified additional actions that are needed to strengthen these efforts. Specifically,

-- DOD has made limited progress in implementing 10 changes the department approved to address gaps in the interoperability of digital communications systems used to conduct CAS, hindering efforts to improve the speed and accuracy of information exchanges.

-- DOD's efforts to assess the interoperability of digital systems used to perform CAS have been limited in scope. GAO found that DOD had formally assessed two out of 10 approved changes during joint service and multinational events, and these assessments were not conducted in a training environment that replicated capabilities of near-peer adversaries.

-- DOD implemented a new capability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to help identify the positions of friendly forces during CAS missions. However, GAO found that DOD did not provide adequate training for personnel who operate it or conduct an evaluation to resolve implementation challenges that have hampered its performance.

DOD conducts evaluations of training programs for forces that participate in CAS missions, but GAO identified two areas where DOD can improve its efforts. First, the Army and Marine Corps have not systematically evaluated the effectiveness of periodic training for ground observers providing targeting information due to a lack of centralized systems for tracking training data and the absence of designated entities to monitor service-wide training. Second, the use of contract aircraft for training increased substantially between 2017 and 2019, but DOD has not fully evaluated the use of non-military contract aircraft to train air controllers for CAS (see fig.). GAO found that differences between U.S. military aircraft and contract aircraft (e.g., airspeed) can result in a misalignment of aircraft capabilities for certain types of training events. Without evaluating CAS training fully, DOD cannot have assurance that its forces are prepared to conduct CAS missions safely and effectively.

GAO is making 11 recommendations to DOD, including that DOD implement and assess initiatives to improve the interoperability of digital systems used in CAS and take additional steps to evaluate the training for certain forces that participate in CAS missions. DOD concurred with the recommendations.

Source:  GAO
Associated URL: Click here to visit

 
WEAPONONE DEMONSTRATES DIGITAL TWIN TECHNOLOGIES
Thursday, January 21, 2021
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A visual representation of a digital twin

.Source: U.S. Air Force


A visual representation of a digital twin

Source: U.S. Air Force


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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate recently hosted a demonstration of the Team Eglin Weapons Digital Enterprise WeaponONE (W1) program at the Virtual Warfare Munitions Simulator. The demonstration highlighted the significant progress made in the past year and highlighted the value of digital engineering to warfighters. This particular demonstration was based on a model of the 24-hour Air Tasking Order (ATO) cycle of a collaborative swarming weapons system prototype called "Gray Wolf." The virtual demonstration integrated multiple aspects of the W1 portfolio, including the Digital Twin Lab, to rapidly enhance Gray Wolf’s capabilities. Digital twins are virtual representations of a real-world entity synchronized with their physical counterpart, such as a weapon. The demonstration showed how data is collected from weapons in-flight, combined with data from the battlefield environment, and sent back through the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) to digital twins. The digital twins run on high-performance computing systems aided by Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning techniques to evaluate possible software upgrades. After determining the most appropriate course of action, that information rapidly returns to the physical weapons in-theater, providing improvements to their performance in near real time or as early as the next 24-hour ATO cycle. Col. Garry Haase, Director of the AFRL Munitions Directorate, explains, "The Digital Twin Lab represents the ultimate expression of digital engineering, acting as a force multiplier, giving us tremendous flexibility and adaptability to our weapons systems." WeaponONE possesses multiple capabilities, including the development of an Authoritative Source of Truth for weapons, a software factory/DevSecOps pipeline for development of simulations as well as on-board flight software and a government-owned Cloud-based tech stack. The all-encompassing, digital, agile, open ecosystem program unites best practices and standards from across government, industry and academia and applies them to weapons development. W1 has developed a model-based Weapons Government Reference Architecture promoting flexibility, modularity, reuse and consistency across weapon system data while establishing a technical and collaborative baseline for the government to operate and support weapons throughout their lifecycle. The W1 program will give the Air Force precise, accessible, adaptable and efficient products, said Dr. Craig M. Ewing, senior scientist for AFRL’s weapons modeling and simulation directorate. "This demonstration is just the first of many that will come as we move the weapons enterprise into an era of digital engineering, accelerating weapons development and improvement at the speed of relevance." Although the program is still in its early stages, it has already garnered attention from Air Force leaders. During the 2020 Digital Campaign Industry Days event, W1 was presented as one of three exemplar digital engineering programs by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, and Air Force Materiel Command. Additionally, W1 was chosen as a pathfinder program for the Air Force Materiel Command Digital Campaign. In the coming year, W1 will further develop its digital twin prototypes to "real" digital twins that bi-directionally exchange data with their physical counterparts. W1’s continued work with ABMS onramps, Hardware-in-the-Loop and Systems Integration Lab testing and Modeling, Simulation & Analysis integration will support development of new capabilities that leverage the digital twin and digital thread to integrate emerging technologies, enhance effects and support rapid evaluation of science and technology concepts through a data-driven decision pipeline.

Source:  Air Force Research Laboratory
Associated URL: Click here to visit

 
AIRBUS UNVEILS NEW TECHNOLOGY FLIGHTLAB
Friday, January 22, 2021
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.Source: Airbus


Source: Airbus


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MARIGNANE, France -- Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on board its Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies. Airbus Helicopters’ Flightlab provides an agile and efficient test bed to quickly test technologies that could later equip Airbus’ current helicopter range, and even more disruptive ones for future fixed-wing aircraft or (e)VTOL platforms.

Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with its Flightlab demonstrator, as well as exploring autonomy, and other technologies aimed at reducing helicopter sound levels or improving maintenance and flight safety.

Flight tests started last April when the demonstrator was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban areas and to particularly study how buildings may affect people’s perception. First results show that buildings play an important role in masking or amplifying sound levels and these studies will be instrumental when the time comes for sound modelling and regulation setting, especially for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiatives. Testing was pursued in December to evaluate the Rotor Strike Alerting System (RSAS) aimed at alerting crews about the imminent risk of collision with the main and tail rotors.

Tests this year will include an image-detection solution with cameras to enable low altitude navigation, the viability of a dedicated Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) for light helicopters, and an Engine Back-up System, which will provide emergency electric power in the event of a turbine failure. Testing on the Flightlab will continue in 2022 in order to evaluate a new ergonomic design of intuitive pilot flight controls intended to further reduce pilot workload, which could be applicable to traditional helicopters as well as other VTOL formulas such as UAM.

Source:  Airbus

 

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