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Soldiers of the future will generate their own power

Wearable technologies may provide U.S. Soldiers with on-the-move, portable energy and reduce the weight of gear they carry into combat.

Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, here, are developing Soldier-borne energy-harvesting technologies.

During the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment, or MFIX, a combined, multi-phase joint training exercise held in September 2014, at Fort Benning, Georgia, researchers tested prototype energy-harvesting technology solutions.

“My initial impression is that they fulfill a need for instant power generation on long-range missions when displaced from traditional resupply methods,” said Sgt. 1st Class Arthur H. Jones, an infantryman with the Maneuver Center of Excellence who participated in the demonstration.

A sharp rise in Soldier-worn power capabilities has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number, variety and weight of batteries carried by warfighters in the field.

This weight prompted NSRDEC researchers to begin developing and evaluating small, lightweight, efficient, on-the-move, portable energy-harvesting and distribution systems that eliminate the need to carry extra batteries.

Energy harvesting works by capturing small amounts of energy that would otherwise be lost as heat, light, sound, vibration or movement. It uses that energy to recharge batteries and provide power for electronic devices such as a Soldier’s communication equipment, sensors, or battlefield situational displays.

Researchers first demonstrated the concept to Army and government representatives at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, in April 2014. The demonstration consisted of experienced Soldiers wearing three energy-harvesting devices while traversing a four-mile course that included hard surfaced roads, lightly wooded areas, open fields and hilly terrain.

The technologies, which included wearable solar panels, backpack and knee kinetic energy-harvesting devices, are now being tested at MFIX as ways to reduce the weight and number of batteries Soldiers must carry to power electronic devices.

Lightning Pack’s Rucksack Harvester relies on the weight of the backpack to produce kinetic energy when the backpack oscillates vertically in response to the Soldier’s walking or running stride. As the backpack is displaced vertically, a rack attached to the frame spins a pinion that, in turn, is attached to a miniature power generator. It is capable of producing 16 to 22 watts while walking, and 22 to 40 watts while running.

Bionic Power’s Knee Harvester collects kinetic energy by recovering the power generated when walking. The articulating device is attached to both the upper and lower part of each leg and extracts energy when the knee is flexed. Through software control, the knee harvester analyzes the wearer’s gait and harvests energy during the phase of the stride when negative work is being performed. This attests that the Soldier is exhibiting less metabolic activity descending when compared with descending without wearing the device.

MC-10′s photovoltaic, or PV, Solar Panel Harvester operates by converting sunlight into electrical energy. The panels, which cover a Soldier’s backpack and helmet, are constructed from thin gallium arsenide crystals that provide flexibility to the panel’s material and allow it to conform to a Soldier’s gear. Under bright sunlight conditions, with the PV panel facing the sun, the backpack panel is capable of delivering 10 watts while the helmet cover panels provides seven watts of electrical power.

At MFIX, NSRDEC researchers collected power-management data and assessed user feedback from the Soldiers wearing the technologies. Once the energy-harvesting technologies themselves are validated, the next step will be to sync with the Integrated Soldier Power Data System as a way to distribute the energy to a Soldier’s electronic devices.

Additionally, “MFIX is looking at new concepts with energy-harvesting devices and how they fit in a tactical environment,” said Noel Soto, project engineer, Power and Data Management Team of the NSRDEC Warfighter Directorate.

“MFIX is an important opportunity that allows us to quantify the energy-harvesting technologies that generate Soldier power on the move,” said Henry Girolamo, lead, Emerging Concepts and Technologies, Warfighter Directorate, who has been involved with the effort since 2011. “The MFIX Data collected in the experiment will inform us of the power harvester efficiency by comparing energy harvester equipped Soldiers and non-energy harvester equipped Soldiers and states of charge from the energy harvesters versus discharge from non-energy harvester equipped Soldiers.”

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The dragon and the bear: Xi, Putin form power duo at APEC

China’s authoritarian President Xi Jinping and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin share similar views on issues from human rights to Mikhail Gorbachev, in an increasingly close personal relationship that mirrors their countries’ converging interests.

Putin arrives in Beijing Sunday for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and his 10th meeting with Xi since the Chinese president took office in March last year, according to the Communist mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Their growing rapport comes as their nations’ trade, investment and geopolitical interests align.

Moscow faces harsh Western criticism and sanctions over its seizure of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as opprobrium for its approach to dissent and homosexuality.

Beijing also has tense relationships over territorial disputes with neighbors such as Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, and has recently been the target of criticism over demands for free elections in Hong Kong.

“The situation is pushing the two countries towards closer ties, both are facing very heavy pressures, Russia in Ukraine and China in Hong Kong,” said Vladimir Yevseyev, director of the Moscow-based independent Public Political Studies Center.

“Xi comes from a background close to the military-industrial complex, he is a man who is much closer to the structures of power enforcement than his predecessor (Hu Jintao),” Yevseyev said.

“Putin understands him better, their outlooks are identical,” he added. “Xi is inclined to confrontation if necessary, which pleases Putin.”

Security Council
Relations between Moscow and Beijing have a chequered history. Territorial disputes between Tsarist Russia and Imperial China gave way to cooperation between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic in the latter’s early years.

That, however, subsequently collapsed in a huge split over ideological issues such as how to promote revolution, who should lead the international communist movement, whether to engage with the capitalist world, and China’s development of nuclear weapons.

Eventually a tectonic shift in global geopolitics resulted when Beijing and Washington ended their mutual hostility and President Richard Nixon visited China.

The USSR broke up 23 years ago and Russia and China have since been brought together by mutual concerns, notably wariness of Washington.

The two countries often vote as a pair on the UN Security Council, where both hold a veto, sometimes in opposition to Western powers on issues such as Syria.

They have carried out joint military exercises on land and sea and are members of the BRICS emerging nations group, which also includes Brazil, India and South Africa.

Their economic links are burgeoning, with resource-rich Russia a natural supplier to China’s growing economy. After a decade of negotiations, the countries signed a huge 30-year gas deal said to be worth $400 billion during a visit to China by Putin in May.

“As Europe is going to cut its consumption of Russian gas, China offers an alternative market,” said Yevseyev.

Pining for Soviet days
APEC, which began with ministerial meetings on Friday before the main summit on Monday and Tuesday, accounts for more than 50 percent of global gross domestic product, 44 percent of world trade and 40 percent of the Earth’s population.

Russia, with its vast territory stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific, is the organization’s only European member.

The consensus-based grouping, which focuses on trade and economic cooperation, generally tries to paper over major differences at its summits.

But Xi, the scion of a Communist Party stalwart and war hero, and Putin, a former KGB agent who was stationed in East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago this month, are likely to take a common stand in the face of critics of Russian and Chinese policies, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

They are also united by a common lament for the collapse of the Soviet Union and contempt for the man they hold responsible: Gorbachev, the leader who implemented “perestroika” and “glasnost” reforms in what was ultimately a failed bid to revitalize the one-party system.

Putin in 2005 called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the biggest geopolitical disaster” of the 20th century.

“Putin and Xi Jinping seem to be able to work together pretty well in part because I think both of them in different ways say, ‘you know who really did the wrong thing 25 years ago? Gorbachev,’” said Jeffrey Wasserstrom, professor of history at the University of California, Irvine, at a talk in Beijing.

“The Chinese Communist Party says that Gorbachev made a mistake, he let things fall apart,” he added. “Putin says Gorbachev made a mistake. That’s a weird kind of convergence.”

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Russian Engine to Power Chinese J-31 5th Generation Fighter

A Russian-made RD-93 engine will power the Chinese J-31 fifth generation fighter, Rosoboronexport official told RIA Novosti Monday.

“J-31 with the Russian engine RD-93 is considered to be an export program, able to compete with the American F-35 fifth generation aircraft on the regional markets,” Rosoboronexport’s Air Force Equipment Export Department Head Sergey Kornev told RIA Novosti in an interview.

“The program is ambitious, but very real, especially considering the high cost of F-35 and some problems with its development,” Kornev added.

Sergey Kornev, who is heading the Russian delegation at China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, told RIA Novosti that two fifth generation fighters are being developed in China, the J-20 and J-31, which demonstrates the high potential of Chinese science and aviation industry.

The J-31 fifth generation fighter flew a maiden flight in October 2012 and there is currently only one prototype available. The twin-engine jet bears some resemblance with the Russian T-50 or PAK FA fifth-generation fighter.

China has also been developing its stealth J-20 fighter, which first took off in 2011, and is expected to be operational by 2017 or later.

Russian RD-93 engines are a variant of the RD-33 engines, initially developed to power MiG-29 fighters. The RD-93 was developed by Russia’s Klimov design bureau specifically for the FC-1 fighter, known in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder.

The world’s only fifth generation fighter in service is the US F-22 Raptor, while F-35, Russian T-50 and Chinese J-20 and J-31 are at various stages of development.

Kornev also mentioned about the problem of China’s making copycat copies of Russian weapons, but pointed out that there is a resolution to that.

“The problem [of China violating copyright of Russian weapons] exists, but it is solvable, and both sides are seeking the settlement of controversial situations,” Rosoboronexport’s Air Force Equipment Export Department Head Sergei Kornev said prior to the Airshow China 2014 exhibition, which will be held in southern China’s city of Zhuhai on November 11-16.

He cited a 2008 deal on intellectual property protection in military-technical cooperation between the two nations as a good example of Russia-China cooperation on the issue.

“We continue joint activities on elaboration of working mechanisms of exposing violations. The problem is concealed in the inconsistence of local legislations as well as international acts,” Kornev added.

The defense official, however, underscored that military-technical cooperation between Russia and China has no hurdles which could not be cleared.

In 1992, China bought Russia’s Su-27 fighter jets. Fifteen years later, Beijing unveiled J-11B aircraft which Moscow labeled as a copycat version of Su-27.

Russia has also accused China of producing cloned versions of Su-33 fighter jet, S-300 air defense system, the Smerch multiple rocket launcher and the Msta self-propelled howitzer in violation of intellectual property agreements.

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EU firms help power China’s military rise

As China boosts its military spending, rattling neighbors over territorial disputes at sea, an AFP investigation shows that European countries have approved billions in transfers of weapons and military-ready technology to the Asian giant.

China’s air force relies on French-designed helicopters, while submarines and frigates involved in Beijing’s physical assertion of its claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea are powered by German and French engines — part of a separate trade in “dual use” technology to Beijing’s armed forces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced stepped-up production of the Airbus EC175 helicopter in China during his visit to France in March — a deal analysts said could result in technology transfers to the military.

“European exports are very important for the Chinese military,” said Andrei Chang, editor of the Hong Kong-based Kanwa Asian Defense Review.

“Without European technology, the Chinese navy would not be able to move.”

The European Union imposed an arms embargo on China after its army killed many demonstrators in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. But member states are free to interpret the embargo loosely, analysts say.

The exports have generated friction with the United States — which does not export arms to Beijing — along with criticism from activists pointing to human rights violations and analysts citing regional security concerns.

An EU spokesman said in a statement that “the final decision to authorize or deny the (arms) export is the responsibility of EU member states”.

Vessels of war
China — the world’s second largest military spender — last month announced the latest of many double-digit rises in its official defence budget.

EU arms makers received licenses to export equipment worth three billion euros ($4.1 billion) to China in the decade to 2012, according to annual EU reports on the trade.

The most recent said arms exports worth 173 million euros ($240 million) were approved in 2012, with France issuing more than 80 percent of them by value. A French parliamentary report said the country delivered China arms worth 104 million euros ($140 million).

Most of France’s arms exports to China from 2009 to 2013, were accounted for by the production of Airbus helicopters in China for use by China’s military, according to analysts from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which monitors arms transfers.

Other EU licenses included almost three million euros ($4.2 million) worth of “smooth-bore weapons” and accessories, approved for export by Britain, and nearly 18 million euros ($25 million) worth of “vessels of war” or their accessories and components, authorized by the Netherlands.

Most of Beijing’s military imports last year came from Russia while France, Britain and Germany supplied 18 percent, SIPRI estimates.

‘Very lax, very loose’
China is on track to become a major military power.

While it calls its expanding capabilities peaceful and aimed at self-defence, relations with its neighbors have soured in recent years, especially rival Japan, with experts warning of potentially dangerous escalations if either side miscalculates.

Tensions spiked last year when a Jiangwei-class Chinese frigate was among the vessels which Tokyo accused of locking fire-control radar on a destroyer and helicopter near disputed islands, an allegation Beijing denied.

Military experts believe the frigate relies on diesel engines produced by German firm MTU.

Another ship involved in recent tensions — a Jiangkai-class vessel — uses engines made by SEMT Pielstick, a French diesel engine manufacturer owned by German firm MAN Diesel and Turbo, according to analysts and specifications posted on Chinese military websites.

MAN told AFP that its Chinese licensees have supplied about 250 engines to China’s navy.

MTU said it “acts strictly according to the German export laws”, without elaborating.

The engines are exported as “dual use” — having civilian and potential military applications — so are exempt from the EU arms embargo.

Beijing’s military has acquired an array of such items from Europe over the past decade, including software used to design fighter jets.

German-designed engines chosen for their low noise levels power virtually all non-nuclear Chinese submarines and several classes of Chinese frigates deployed in the South China Sea, where Beijing has a host of territorial disputes, analysts say.

Citing the co-production deal signed in France, Chang said: “China uses the name of civil purchase to purchase French helicopter engines, and they shift those engines into military helicopters.”

“If (China) knows how to design the middle-sized EC175, they will know how to design a middle-sized military transport helicopter.”

China’s recent military helicopters “appear to just be upgrades” of Airbus designs, said Roger Cliff, military analyst at the US-based Atlantic Council.

Bernadette Andreosso, director of European studies at Ireland’s University of Limerick, described Europe’s dual-use export controls as “very lax, very loose”.

“China represents much more of a threat today to stability in the Pacific and elsewhere,” said Andreosso. “We might have to sacrifice some of our competitiveness to have greater security.”

Trading values for arms?
Arms exports have created tension between the EU and US. According to SIPRI the US has not exported any arms to China in any of the recent years for which it has data.

China’s defence ministry declined to comment.

Airbus Group said in a statement: “We strictly abide with all laws and regulations relating to any exports towards China, including the US laws.Our governments are fully aware of the exports that are made to China, as in many cases they require specific licenses.”

Campaigners also worry about human rights in China, which jails dissidents and deploys troops in sensitive areas including Tibet.

“The EU is supposed to be based on the promotion of human rights and democracy, but all too often these values are overridden in the name of short-term profits for arms companies,” said Andrew Smith, of the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Emil Kirchner, an EU policy expert at Britain’s University of Essex, said East Asian tensions meant the exports could eventually damage EU interests.

“Already, cynics claim that if the People’s Liberation Army went to war tomorrow, it would employ an arsenal filled with equipment from Germany, France and Britain,” he said.

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Xi wants China to be ‘cyber power’

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for his country to become a “cyber power,” state media reported Thursday after he chaired a meeting of a special group focused on Internet security.

“Efforts should be made to build our country into a cyber power,” he said, according to Xinhua, which cited a statement it said was released after the group’s first meeting earlier in the day.

“We should be fully aware of the importance and urgency of Internet security and informatization,” he said.

Xi heads the “leading group,” Xinhua said, with Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan — who along with Xi and Li is a member of the Communist Party’s powerful politburo standing committee — the deputy heads.

At the meeting, Xi emphasised that Internet security is a key strategic and security issue for China, Xinhua reported.

Xi’s call comes as the question of large-scale cyber espionage has become a key point of contention for China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies and which both possess large militaries.

In a report released in February last year, security firm Mandiant said China was devoting thousands of people to a military-linked unit that has pilfered intellectual property and government secrets.

In November, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in its annual report to Congress that China has not curbed rampant spying on American interests.

The report accused China of “directing and executing a large-scale cyber espionage campaign,” penetrating the US government and private industry. China has vehemently denied accusations of cyber espionage.

Beijing has also cited leaks by former American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — revealing mass US electronic surveillance programmes — as evidence that the United States is guilty of double standards when it comes to online espionage.

US President Barack Obama said last year that he and Xi had “very blunt conversations” about cyber-hacking when they met for a summit in June in California.

Xi insisted at a joint press appearance during the meeting that China itself was a victim of cyber theft.

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Lockheed Martin Demonstrates Weapons Grade High Power Fiber Laser

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a 30-kilowatt electric fiber laser, the highest power ever documented while retaining beam quality and electrical efficiency.

The internally funded research and development program culminated in this demonstration, which was achieved by combining many fiber lasers into a single, near-perfect quality beam of light—all while using approximately 50 percent less electricity than alternative solid-state laser technologies. The unique process, called Spectral Beam Combining, sends beams from multiple fiber laser modules, each with a unique wavelength, into a combiner that forms a single, powerful, high quality beam.

“Lockheed Martin has opened the aperture for high power, electrically driven laser systems suitable for military applications,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin. “Advancements in available laser components, along with the maturity and quality of our innovative beam-combining technology, support our goal of providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for use on military platforms such as aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.”

The successful demonstration marks a significant milestone on the path to deploying a mission-relevant laser weapon system for a wide range of air, land and sea military platforms.

Prior laser weapon demonstrations in the industry showed target acquisition, tracking and destruction. However, these solutions were limited for tactical military use because their laser inefficiencies drove significant size, power and cooling needs not readily supported by key military ground and airborne platforms.

“The high-energy laser serves as the heart of a laser weapon system,” said Dr. Johnson. “This 30-kilowatt milestone shows our commitment to producing the high beam quality and high power needed to address a variety of military ‘speed-of-light’ defensive operations.”

Lockheed Martin has specialized in directed energy laser weapon system development for the past 30 years and purchased Aculight in 2008 to further strengthen its offerings at every level—from expert advice and pioneering research to solid prototyping and flexible manufacturing.

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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Philippine Air Force Signs Contract for Eight AW109 Power Helicopters

By on Thursday, November 7th, 2013

AgustaWestland is pleased to announce that the Philippine Air Force has signed a contract for eight AW109 Power light twin helicopters. These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support. Deliveries will start in 2014. The contract also includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.

This contract further expands the presence of AgustaWestland in the Philippine helicopter market and adds one more military customer for the AW109 Power model in this country, following an order for three aircraft by the Philippine Navy earlier this year to enhance the service’s maritime operational capability. The Philippine Air Force’s AW109 Power configuration will feature a dedicated mission package and equipment including a combination of weapon systems.

Daniele Romiti, Chief Executive Officer, AgustaWestland said “It gives us great pleasure to sign this contract with the Philippine Air Force, further reinforcing the already strong partnership with the Department of National Defence. This latest achievement provides clear evidence of the customer’s confidence in the product while we’ve demonstrated that we are a reliable partner, able to offer a cost-effective solution. We are committed to deliver the improved mission capabilities and high quality services the customer deserves.”

The AW109 Power is a three-tonne class eight seat twin engine helicopter. The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles. The aircraft’s safety and survivability features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW109 Power’s superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective helicopter in its class for a range of government tasks.

Over 580 AW109 Power and AW109 LUH helicopters have been ordered for parapublic, military and commercial applications by customers in around 50 countries.

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