Tag Archives: Control

British forces hand over control of last base in Afghanistan

British forces Sunday handed over formal control of their last base in Afghanistan to Afghan troops, ending combat operations in the country after 13 years which cost hundreds of lives.

The handover was hailed by British Prime Minister David Cameron but the southern Helmand province that foreign troops are leaving behind still confronts a resilient Taliban insurgency and remains a hub for opium production.

The Union Jack was lowered at Camp Bastion while the Stars and Stripes came down at the adjacent Camp Leatherneck — the last US Marine base in the country.

All NATO combat troops will depart Afghanistan by December, leaving Afghan troops and police to battle Taliban insurgents on their own.

The huge joint base built in the desert near the provincial capital Lashkar Gah was the most important installation for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Between 2010 to 2011, it housed almost 40,000 foreigners including sub-contractors.

Hundreds of US Marines and British troops are set to leave Helmand soon, though the precise date has not been revealed for security reasons.

In a ceremony Sunday the Afghans took formal control of the base, despite already being present in a portion of it. The British and US flags were lowered, leaving only Afghanistan’s national flag to flutter in the breeze.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron later tweeted: “As flag lowers at Camp Bastion, our Armed Forces can return with their heads held high – proud of all they have achieved to keep us safe.”

A total of 453 British troops and 2,349 Americans were killed.

Many facilities such as pipelines, buildings, roads and even office furniture remain in place, with the US alone estimating $230 million worth of equipment is being left behind.

– A failure? –

Marine General Daniel D. Yoo, regional commander, said the Afghan army is now now capable of taking over the reins.

“I’m cautiously optimistic they will be able to sustain themselves. I know from my experience that they have the capability and the capacity if they allocate the resources properly,” he said.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” added the officer, who was among the first Marines on the ground in autumn 2001, when a US-led coalition toppled the Taliban who had been in power since 1996.

General Sayed Malook, who leads the Afghan forces in the region and has now established his quarters in the base, said the camp would become a military training centre and house 1,800 soldiers.

“I’m certain we can maintain the security,” he said Sunday. Asked about the departure of the NATO troops, he said: “I’m happy and sad. I’m happy because they are going to their home, I’m sad because they are friends.”

Not everyone shared his optimism.

Atiqullah Amarkhail, a former high-ranking general turned analyst said the British mission in particular was a failure.

“You see that the British are leaving a broken Helmand, where the Taliban insurgency is at its highest, and government forces are struggling to hold territories, and the province is producing almost fifty percent of the world’s opium,” he said.

“These are all signs that the British mission in Helmand have been a failure.

“They failed to prevent the Taliban come back and they are leaving it to Afghans and Americans to clean up. I see a bleak future for Helmand and southern Afghanistan now. The only hope is that the Afghan forces will be able to correct the British mistakes there.”

At Camp Leatherneck troops busied themselves with packing up, sorting out what medical equipment will go and what will remain.

Corporal Ruf Stevens, in charge of vehicle transport, returned to his hut with his assault rifle in one hand and a guitar he found in a dustbin in another.

“I just think we got the job done. It’s a dirty job but pride come with it,” he said.

The operational command centre, a small room in a wooden hut filled with surveillance screens and computers, is seeing out its final days.

Surveillance has picked up little in the way of insurgent activity in recent days as the yearly fighting season comes to an end.

After Camp Leatherneck and Bastion, the most important NATO bases will be at Kandahar, Bagram, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.

There are now about 40,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, down from their 2011 peak of around 140,000.

A residual force of around 12,000 soldiers including 9,800 Americans and 500 Britons will remain after December as part of a security pact signed by new president Ashraf Ghani.

Their role will be training Afghan troops and counter-terrorism.

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U.S., South Korea Reach Agreement for Wartime Control of Forces

By on Monday, October 27th, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo met at the Pentagon today for the 46th Security Consultative Meeting.

At the meeting, they agreed to implement South Korea’s proposal for a conditions-based approach to transferring wartime control of allied forces, known as operational control, or OPCON, to ensure the combined defense posture remains strong and seamless, defense officials announced.

South Korea was scheduled to take wartime control by the end of 2015; now the transfer will focus on South Korea achieving critical defensive capabilities against an intensifying North Korean threat. Therefore, no new date for transferring OPCON will be set, officials said.

Planners from the U.S and South Korea will create a new base plan that will replace the Strategic Alliance 2015 Base Plan by the 47th Security Consultative Meeting.

A link to the full text of the joint communique can be found below:
U.S., South Korea Reach Agreement for Wartime Control of Forces (25 downloads)

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Lockheed Integrates Latest Ground Control Station Technology with Fury UAS

To increase expeditionary capabilities in its long endurance Group 3 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Lockheed Martin recently fielded its newest Expeditionary Ground Control Station, or “xGCS”, for use with the Fury UAS.

Following its development and manufacturing in Huntsville, Ala., xGCS shipped and was integrated with Fury in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The first xGCS unit was delivered in early 2014 and has completed initial flight testing in preparation for upcoming Fury UAS deployments.

The small and rugged xGCS provides all processing and communications support electronics needed for Fury UAS ground control operations, as well as all supported payload tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination. Because the xGCS is reliable, powerful and suitable to the most remote deployment locations, it delivers unprecedented flexibility to the Fury UAS.

“The Fury UAS is an expeditionary platform with best-in-industry capabilities,” said Jay McConville, director of business development for Lockheed Martin’s Fury UAS. “It is an Advanced Group 3 UAS with significant increases to endurance, payload capacity, communications capability, and advanced mission management. Often times our warfighters are struggling with the ‘tyranny of distance.’ Fury gives them a toolset to tackle these challenges. For these reasons we needed a ground control hardware implementation that was rugged, light-weight, and incredibly powerful. The xGCS has met all of our requirements and expectations.”

To ensure maximum processing power and deploy-ability, Lockheed Martin applied 20 years of UAS ground control system manufacturing experience to the system. The xGCS is comprised of a mixture of military-rugged and commercial-off-the-shelf hardware within a rugged framework configuration. xGCS is expandable, easy to upgrade and features a small physical profile for use in a variety of mission control configurations. It can support multiple UAS platforms, and can host any standard ground control software suite utilizing its virtual machine technology.

The xGCS is capable of simultaneously running the Sharkfin UAS mission management system and the VCS-4586 product suite, both brought into the Lockheed Martin portfolio in 2012 when the corporation acquired Chandler/May, Inc. and CDL Systems, Inc. The acquisitions added to Lockheed Martin’s five decades of experience in unmanned and robotic systems for air, land and sea. From the depths of the ocean to the rarified air of the stratosphere, Lockheed Martin’s unmanned systems help our military, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

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Lockheed Demos Enhanced Ground Control System and Software for Small Unmanned Aircraft

Lockheed Martin’s Group 1 family of unmanned aircraft systems is migrating to enhanced automation capabilities using its Kestrel “Fly Light” flight control systems and industry-leading mobile Ground Control Station (mGCS) software. The increased automation allows operators to focus on executing the mission, rather than flying various aircraft.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk III small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) demonstrated these enhancements by delivering improved situational awareness to operators.

The mGCS enhancements also proved to substantially reduce operator workload through an intuitive interface, user-friendly touchscreen and joystick options, as well as a sophisticated set of operator warnings, cautions and advisories.

“The mGCS is a derivative of our proven VCS-4586 software that focuses on providing capabilities to the small unit level,” said Kevin Westfall, director of unmanned solutions at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business.

“mGCS is a single, portable system capable of conducting missions that would typically require multiple controllers and federated software applications in order to manage the many different types of UAS.”

mGCS was developed on an open system using commercial off-the-shelf technology that is interoperable with a variety of portable computers, hand controllers, autopilots, data links and sensors.

The mGCS software is compliant with NATO’s Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4586 and also includes a full software development kit to provide other UAS manufacturers the ability to add systems and other capabilities without restriction. This significantly eases integration while reducing support and sustainment costs as well.

With more than five decades experience in unmanned and robotic systems, Lockheed Martin offers multiple solutions for air, land and sea. From the depths of the ocean to the rarified air of the stratosphere, Lockheed Martin’s unmanned systems help our military, civil and commercial customers accomplish their most difficult challenges.

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UK to Upgrade Apache Helicopter Fire Control

LONGBOW International, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, received a $96 million contract in 2013 from AgustaWestland to support LONGBOW Fire Control Radars on U.K. Apache AH Mk.1 aircraft.

The five-year contract includes engineering services, integrated logistics support and an in-country repair capability. The effort is part of the overall Integrated Operational Support solution for the U.K. Apache helicopter fleet provided by AgustaWestland to the U.K. Ministry of Defence. Support services under this contract will continue through March 2019.

“LONGBOW International will provide comprehensive services to sustain fire control radars equipping the British Army’s fleet of Apache helicopters,” said Tom Eldredge, LONGBOW International’s president and director of LONGBOW programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Our strong partnership with AgustaWestland enables us to provide high operational availability and system reliability at low overall costs in support of the U.K. Ministry of Defence.”

For over a decade, the LONGBOW radar system has provided Apache aircrews with automatic target detection, location, classification and prioritization and enabled rapid, multi-target engagement in all weather, over multiple terrains and through battlefield obscurants.

“This contract provides high-quality logistics engineering and affordable repairs support for the U.K. Ministry of Defence, ensuring supply availability,” said Mike Galletti, LONGBOW International’s vice president and director of Northrop Grumman’s Tactical Sensor Solutions-Aviation business unit. “We are pleased to maintain our strong relationship with AgustaWestland and provide a steady base of support to the U.K. Apache LONGBOW helicopters.”

Work will be performed at the U.K. Wattisham Airfield Special Repair Activity Depot; Northrop Grumman’s Baltimore, Md., facility; Lockheed Martin facilities in Ocala and Orlando, Fla.; and LMUK Ampthill in the U.K.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

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Army researchers inspire commercial rifle fire control systems

Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory go about their business every day working on projects to help better serve the military and its members who protect our country. Sometimes the research inspires commercial companies to do additional research and expand on certain aspects to develop products of their own.

That is what happened with the Army Research Laboratory’s, or ARL’s, research called “Inertial Reticle Technology,” where researchers who were then in the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate developed a concept to apply advanced fire control technology to sniper weapons.

As a result of this concept, a modern fire control system for rifles was developed by a Texas-based company, which later partnered with another prominent gun manufacturer. Their partnership allowed for the development of a new shooting system, which they claim may just revolutionize how targets are acquired. It is called the precision-guided firearm.

According to an article in American Rifleman magazine, dated Dec. 17, 2013, a new integrated rifle and sighting system was introduced in January 2013, in which a video screen scope with an internal laser rangefinder to measure the distance to the target and, using the latest in digital technology, factors in temperature, barometric pressure, incline/decline, cant, air density, spin drift, target movement and effect drift.

Raymond Von Wahlde, aerospace engineer, Vehicle Technology Directorate, learned about this discovery through his former colleagues Lucian Sadowski and Dr. Stephen Small both from Joint Service Small Arms Program who managed a project in the 1990′s known as, “Project White Feather.”

Small named the project as a tribute to famed sniper Gunnery Sgt. Carlos N. Hathcock II, also known as “White Feather.” Von Wahlde found that the new rifle was very similar to the technology he had coauthored a white paper on with Dennis Metz from EAI Corporation in August 1999, titled “Sniper Weapon Fire Control Error Budget Analysis,” data from which was included on the company’s website.

Von Wahlde contacted the company to see if those who developed their precision-guided firearms were aware of the Special Operations Command-sponsored project known as “Project White Feather.”

Von Wahlde said in his message, “we called it the ‘Inertial Reticle.’ It was the brainchild of Dr. Mark Kregel. Might the precision guided firearm trace its ancestry back at least in part to ‘Project White Feather?’”

Von Wahlde went on to say, “Your videos look remarkably like ours did back in the day. I am impressed with your implementation. We utilized actual inertial sensors on the weapon to stabilize the desired aim point. I like your image processing method for doing so. Your solution to trigger pull is elegant. We replaced the trigger with a switch that armed the system. A solenoid actually pulled the trigger. That was one of the least liked features of our prototype by the users. Adjusting the trigger force is brilliant.”

Within a couple of days, Von Wahlde received a message back from the company.

“Thank you very much for your email. I appreciate your work — Project White Feather continues to be the best compilation and serious study of sniper performance data that I am aware of. We make everyone on the team read it. Thanks for your interest, would love to show you the system sometime,” said Bret Boyd, vice president of sales and marketing, TrackingPoint.

Von Wahlde, who was project engineer for much of the testing, said he gives a lot of credit to his former colleagues.

“The technology was the brain child of Dr. Mark Kregel (now retired) and along with Tom Haug (also retired) and Tim Brosseau from WMRD, they constructed the prototype systems for the IRT (Inertial Reticle Technology),” said Von Wahlde. “I am honored to be part of a team that served as an inspiration for these systems.”

—–

U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command or RDECOM, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness–technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment–to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.

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RPA Pilots Command Avenger from a New Ground Control Station

A Predator C Avenger lined up on the runway at . Photo: GA-ASI.

A Predator C Avenger lined up on the runway at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. Photo: GA-ASI.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has successfully demonstrated the command of the Predator C Avenger stealth drone from a new, Advanced Cockpit Ground Control Station’s (GCS). “This flight paired our most advanced GCS with our most advanced aircraft”, said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “Since 1994, our GCS have amassed over two million flight hours. The Advanced Cockpit is the next logical step in GCS progression. Our objective with this GCS is to fully satisfy customer interoperability requirements, enabling any GA-ASI RPA to be flown from the system.”

“Advanced Cockpit’s wrap-around visual display and multi-dimensional moving map dramatically increases situational awareness, while the integrated digital checklist decreases pilot workload,” said Jason McDermott, the test pilot who successfully handed off control of Avenger from GA-ASI’s legacy GCS to the Advanced Cockpit and controlled the flight during a 3-hour mission. “The combination of these unique features greatly increases the ease and simplicity of mission planning, reduces pilot workload, thereby increasing flight safety.” The flight occurred November 15, 2012 at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif,

“Advanced Cockpit’s wrap-around visual display and multi-dimensional moving map dramatically increases situational awareness, while the integrated digital checklist decreases pilot workload,”

The Advanced Cockpit GCS features intuitive interfaces designed to make hazardous situations easier to identify, enhancing safety and improving the pilot’s reaction time and decision-making processes. Its ergonomic human-machine interface significantly improves situational awareness and reduces workload so the pilot can more effectively and efficiently accomplish his or her mission.

The flight test was conducted under a Congressionally-directed, U.S. Air Force (USAF)-supported program to demonstrate was to demonstrate how the new cockpit’s open systems’ software architecture adapts for other RPA operations. In 2011 the system successfully flew the MQ-1 Predator over a three-month period and, in April 2012, the Advanced Cockpit flew the SARC-1 UAS under a jointly funded company effort with Strategic Simulation Solutions. This effort demonstrated the system’s ability to control third party RPA. This summer, the Advanced Cockpit is scheduled to fly Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper.

GA-ASI designed the Advanced Cockpit GCS to enable interoperability with all USAF RPA, in accordance with the U.S. Air Force’s Unmanned Aircraft System Command and Control Initiative and the U.S. Department of Defense’s vision for GCS interoperability and commonality, as outlined by the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Unmanned Control Segment Working Group.

The Advanced Cockpit GCS features intuitive interfaces designed to make hazardous situations easier to identify, enhancing safety and improving the pilot’s reaction time and decision-making processes. Its ergonomic human-machine interface significantly improves situational awareness and reduces workload so the pilot can more effectively and efficiently accomplish his or her mission.

The Advanced Cockpit GCS features intuitive interfaces designed to make hazardous situations easier to identify, enhancing safety and improving the pilot’s reaction time and decision-making processes. Its ergonomic human-machine interface significantly improves situational awareness and reduces workload so the pilot can more effectively and efficiently accomplish his or her mission. Photo: GA-ASI.

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