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Airforce Life Cycle Management Center helps design transport isolation system

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is playing a unique role in the United States’ comprehensive Ebola response efforts in West Africa through the center’s involvement in developing a transport isolation system.

The system will enable safe aeromedical evacuation of Department of Defense patients in C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs.

The Human Systems Division — one of nine divisions within AFLCMC’s Agile Combat Support Directorate — is leading the integration of multiple System Program Offices to support the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s task to rapidly field the transport isolation system (TIS) by January.

Lt. Col. Scott Bergren, the chief of the Aircrew Performance Branch, is among those involved in the project.

“AFLCMC was notified the third week of October that its help was needed,” Bergren said. “We also were informed that the intent was to fly this system in an operational test beginning Dec. 1. So we were given a month and a half to ensure this system is safe to fly. All involved offices within AFLCMC have rallied to help get the TIS out the door.

“While DTRA is providing overall program management and contracting actions, our efforts have focused on quickly collecting the test data needed to assess the safety of the system for use in identified aircraft,” Bergren continued. “For example, we reached out to the Navy and obtained existing test data for subcomponents of the TIS used in Navy weapon systems today. This prevented us from having to redo those tests, which saved time. Fortunately, we have those connections and our division possesses the capability to analyze test data and certify components already in use within DOD.

“We’re thinking differently and more creatively to ensure we keep pace with the Pentagon’s timeline for this isolation system,” Bergren added. “We want to ensure this project is completed on time and safely.”

An example of creative thinking is that the AFLCMC team identified a proven LED lighting system used in the KC-135 Stratotanker platform today as a means to provide medical lighting in the TIS.

“This avoided a development effort by the contractor and cut roughly two weeks from a schedule in which every day counts,” Bergren said.

According to Melina Baez-Bowersox, a technical lead engineer in the Aeromedical Branch, additional challenges arise anytime there is a proposal to add a new system or equipment to an Air Force platform, such as an aircraft.

“Part of our responsibility is to assess the TIS’s capability by testing and evaluating the system on the aircraft,” she said. “We ask ourselves, ‘How does it (TIS) behave?’, ‘What does adding the system do to the structural integrity of the aircraft?’, ‘Is the TIS safe for patients, aircrews and the aircraft?’

“Ultimately, we want to be able to safely transport infected individuals back to the United States in a way that contains Ebola exposure to others while also preventing contamination of an aircraft or losing a precious Air Force asset,” she continued.

“We’re the right organization to be involved to deliver this critical capability that is quite complex and under an extremely compressed timeline,” said Col. William McGuffey, the chief of the Human Systems Division. “It’s another example of how AFLCMC acquires, fields and sustains systems and capabilities to support the urgent needs of other Air Force major commands and the DOD.

Pentagon officials say they do not expect the 3,000 U.S. troops heading to or already in the region to need the TIS because military personnel will not be treating Ebola patients directly.

“But we want to be prepared to care for the people we do have there just out of an abundance of caution,” Defense Department spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said.

Currently, transport of Ebola patients from overseas is done by Phoenix Air, a government contractor based in Georgia whose modified business jet is capable of carrying just a single patient.

The Pentagon’s TIS will be similar but larger than the units used by Phoenix Air, whose containment system is a tent-like structure held up by a metal framework within the aircraft.

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Automatic FOD Detection System Helps Increase Safety at Ben-Gurion Airport

FODAlert system has been declared operational along Runway 380 at Tel-Aviv Ben Gurion airport. Photo: Xsight Systems

FODetect system has been declared operational along Primary Runway 0826 at Tel-Aviv Ben Gurion airport. Photo: Xsight Systems

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has declared the FODetect, an automated Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection system developed by Xsight fully operational at Ben -Gurion airport in Tel-Aviv. i-hls reports.

In May 2011, following a two year evaluation period, the IAA selected and began the FODetect project deployment. In June 2012, the FODetect system successfully passed site acceptance testing, a procedure conducted according to FAA regulations for FOD detection equipment.

According to Yair Gannot, director of aviation safety at IAA, during the systems’ final operational evaluation that lasted nine months an average of six FOD items were collected from that runway each month. “We had no case of FOD found by our manual inspectors that was not easier detected and visualized by the automated FOD detection system” Gannot said.

The FODetect system is installed on the airport’s primary 0826 runway, the first of three runways planned to be equipped with a FOD detection system. The operational status was declared after a rigorous evaluation process and soft launch testing at the airport’s primary runway.The system is operated by the airfield lighting maintenance team and requires less than one hour of maintenance per two weeks, with maintenance carried out during standard night time maintenance windows.

Xsight Systems' FODetect sensor comprises a compact short-range radar and EO imaging system, providing automatic detection and inspection of foreign objects that appear on the runway. Such objects can be parts separated from aircraft on takeoff or landing, or other debris left from passing cars, winds, birds etc. Photo: Xsight Systems

Xsight Systems’ FODetect sensor comprises a compact short-range radar and EO imaging system, providing automatic detection and inspection of foreign objects that appear on the runway. Such objects can be parts separated from aircraft on takeoff or landing, or other debris left from passing cars, winds, birds etc. Photo: Xsight Systems

FODetect is a comprehensive automatic FOD detection solution, comprising multiple Surface Detection Units (SDUs) that are collocated with the runway edge lights. The system’s capabilities are based on a hybrid radar-optical sensing technology utilizing optimized algorithms, advanced image processing software and close range detection. the entire system provides automatic detection and close-up view of suspected FOD over the entire runway, during day and night, including inclement weather conditions.

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Xsight Systems FODetect is constantly scanning and monitoring runways at civil airports in Israel and abroad, detecting foreign objects that could endanger aircraft operations. Photo: Xsight Systems

runways from foreign objects in Israel and abroad, in civil and military air bases

Scanning between each aircraft movement, FODetect not only markedly enhances safety, but also increases operational efficiency and runway capacity. Xsight’s FODetect system is fully compliant with the FAA’s regulation for FOD detection, as it meets or exceeds the highest performance levels in every parameter required by the FAA.

The FODetect system is installed on the airport’s primary 0826 runway, the first of three runways planned to be equipped with a FOD detection system.

FOD is an international problem The certification in Israel opens the way for a way to deal with it in a more efficient way.

Experts say that the systems’ sensors are located along airport runways and therefor can serve as an added tool to detect any suspicious movement that can be connected to an terror act.

Source: i-hls

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OneShot Helps Snipers Reach Out to Maximum Range

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Because of interest expressed by services, One Shot XG is being developed to create a sniper fire control system significantly smaller than the original model. The One Shot XG will be “clipped-on” directly to the weapon, eliminating the need for a spotter/observer in future sniper operations. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.

Snipers have become a determining factor in asymmetric combat, for their capability to gain measured and surgical effects with minimum collateral risk. However, where snipers are called to engage targets at extended ranges (1-2 km), their capability to get ‘one shot – one kill’ is eroded. Training, weapon improvement or optics cannot bridge this gap.

Military snipers may only get one chance to hit their target. The One Shot program seeks to enable snipers to accurately hit targets with the first round, under crosswind conditions, day or night, at the maximum effective range of the weapon. A commercial system providing similar capabilities (tough not as advanced in down-range measurement as the DARPA system) was unveiled by TrackingPoint at the Shot Show 2013.

DARPA has demonstrated that an integrated approach that corrects the major causes for error, can improve sniper performance dramatically, when used as an integrated, ergonomically engineered system. The program began n 2007 and has currently reached an advanced stage with size, weight and power reduced into a man-portable sized systems.

One Shot XG incorporates lessons learned and the user input received during the program developmental testing cycles. Integrated on the sniper scope, or the observer’s telescope for conventional two-man operation, DARPA’s One Shot XG system aims to increase the first round hit probability of the sniper team, thus reducing target engagement time by reducing the number of rounds spent to score the first hit. The system is also designed for application on the sniper’s scope, for individual use. One Shot XG accurately measures the range to the target, the atmospheric and geodetic conditions and the crosswind velocity down range utilizing an invisible laser beam. Calculating all this data into a ballistic solution, One Shot displays a corrected aim point on the sniper scope’s reticule. The system has demonstrated 400 percent improvement in first hit probability and reduced rounds to first hit by 230 percent. Overall, engagement time has been reduced by 35 percent.

The initial OneShot system was designed to be operated by the spotter, assisting multiple snipers with more accurate ballistic solutions. Photo: via DARPA

The initial OneShot system was designed to be operated by the spotter, assisting multiple snipers with more accurate ballistic solutions. Photo: via DARPA

Through the development since 2007 the system’s weight has been reduced from 5.7 kg day-only solution for a two-man team to 1.4 kg day/night system operated by a single sniper. The system’s volume has also diminished from 8.6 litres to 1.2 litres.

The new version – One Shot XG represents the next-generation of the  system.  The program should complete Phase 2E in spring 2013, which will reduce system size, weight and power and extend the engagement range.  The Phase 2E system will mount on a conventional spotting scope, and prototypes are expected to be available for field evaluation in spring 2013. The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab expects to get the first eight XG systems in December 2013 to proceed with test firing and user evaluation.

This next-generation One Shot envisions a compact observation, measurement, and ballistic calculation system mountable on either the weapon or spotting scope. If proven successful, One Shot XG would lead to limited rate production with the military services taking on the requirement and acquisition role for future procurement.

DARPA's One Shot XG sniper fire control system

DARPA’s One Shot XG sniper fire control system

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NTU’s ‘sense-ational’ invention helps underwater vessels navigate with ease

By on Thursday, December 13th, 2012

NTU scientists have invented a ‘sense-ational’ device, similar to a string of ‘feelers’ found on the bodies of the Blind Cave Fish, which enables the fish to sense their surrounding and so navigate easily.

Using a combination of water pressure and computer vision technology, the sensory device is able to give users a 3-D image of nearby objects and map its surroundings. The possible applications of this fish-inspired sensor are enormous. The sensor can potentially replace the expensive ‘eyes and ears’ on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), submarines and boats that currently rely on cameras and sonars to gather information about the environment around them.

The revolutionary, low-powered sensor is unlike cameras which cannot see in dark or murky waters; or sonars whose sound waves pose harm to some marine animals.

These extremely small sensors (each sensor is 1.8mm x 1.8mm) are now being used in AUVs developed by researchers from Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), a research centre funded by the National Research Foundation. The centre is developing a new generation of underwater ‘stingray-like’ robots and autonomous surface vessels.

The new sensors, made using Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, will make such robots smarter and prolong their operational time as battery power is conserved.

Associate Professor Miao Jianmin from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and his team of four have spent the last five years in collaboration with SMART to develop micro-sensors that mimic the row of ‘feelers’ on both sides of the Blind cave fish’s body.

Associate Prof Miao said the line of sensors present on the fish’s body is the reason why it can sense objects around it and still travel at high speeds without colliding with any underwater obstacles.

“To mimic nature, our team created microscopic sensory pillars wrapped in hydrogel – a material which is similar to the natural neuromasts of the blind cave fish – into an array of two rows of five sensors,” Prof Miao said.

“This array of micro-sensors will then allow AUVs to locate, identify, and classify obstacles and objects in water through water pressure and also to optimise its movement in water by sensing the water flow.”

The new sensor array which costs below S$100 to make, is also more affordable than sonars, which can detect faraway objects but not nearby objects and cost thousands of dollars.

Partnering Prof Miao to develop the sensors and to adopt it for use on AUVs is Professor Michael Triantafyllou from SMART. Prof Triantafyllou, from SMART’s Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM), is one of the world’s foremost experts on creating underwater robots modelled after aquatic animals like fish.

Current problems with AUVs include poor navigation in murky or cloudy waters such as those off the coast of Singapore, as underwater cameras can only see a short distance, Prof Triantafyllou said.

“Other methods like underwater lights and cameras, acoustic navigation, and sonars also work, but they are very expensive and require very high levels of power that drain the batteries. The new sensors are much cheaper and only require small amounts of power. Also, sensors like sonar are loud and invasive and they may harm aquatic animals that also use sound waves to navigate,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor added.

The aim of the AUVs is for environmental sensing, to detect environmental pollution, contaminants and to monitor the overall water quality in Singapore’s waters. The AUVs will have chemical sensors installed to detect the chemical condition of water (dissolved oxygen, nutrients, metals, oils, and pesticides), and biological sensors to monitor water conditions such as harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Other potential application of these MEMS sensors, which specialises in near-field detection include defence applications. These can detect nearby submarines without the use of sonar thatgives away one’s location.

This collaborative research resulted in two breakthrough papers being accepted for presentation at a prestigious MEMS conference next January in Taiwan, organised by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

One paper is for the development of the piezoelectric sensor which does not require any energy as it generates an electric voltage when water flows past the ‘feelers’. The second paper focuses on a low-powered biomimetic sensor which can detect underwater objects even when there is little water flowing past it.

To further improve the sensor, Prof Miao’s team is now looking to develop a hybrid sensor which will combine both the zero-energy piezoelectric sensor’s high accuracy with the low-powered static sensor’s ability to detect objects in still water.

Source: Nanyang Technological University

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