Monday, October 20, 2014

The INSIDER - October 15, 2014

Posted on InsideDefense.com: October 15, 2014
Hypersonic.

Just posted:

'Launch-Pad Anomaly' Eyed As Culprit In August Hypersonic Test Failure

Preliminary findings of a Pentagon investigation into the failed August test of the Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon has determined a "launch-pad anomaly" to be the culprit while the booster and warhead payload -- destroyed seconds after launch -- operated as expected, according to a senior Army official.

Lt. Gen. David Mann, head of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, said while the failure review board assessing the Aug. 25 test in Alaska has not yet finalized its work, the initial conclusions leave defense officials optimistic about future prospects for the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, a leading candidate for the Conventional Prompt Global Strike concept.

"The initial assessment that we're getting is that the actual weapon and the booster were working nominally," Mann said in a brief interview on the sidelines of the Association of the United States Army convention. "And that it appears -- and we've got to wait for the final results to come out -- it appears [the test termination] had nothing to do with the booster or the AHW but more with a launch-pad anomaly."

Root Cause.

It's clear now what caused an F-35A engine fire:

Team Investigating F-35A Engine Fire Validates Root Cause, Briefs Findings

A joint team investigating an engine fire onboard an Air Force Joint Strike Fighter this summer has validated the root cause of the incident and briefed its findings Oct. 10, according to a spokesman from the F-35 joint program office.

The findings confirmed the root cause previously identified based on analysis by engine-maker Pratt & Whitney and the JPO. Program officials have said the fire was caused by a "hard rub" between two components in the engine's fan -- a titanium fan blade and a seal made of polyamide, a synthetic polymer. The affected aircraft had, just weeks before the incident, flown a series of very intense maneuvers, which lead to the "hard rub," officials have said.

Because the engine was new and the maneuvers so advanced, the rubbing -- which is called "burn-in" and digs a trench in the polyamide seal -- happened at a faster rate than the JPO or Pratt anticipated. The intense heat generated by the rubbing created several micro-cracks in the fan blades that expanded and eventually cracked wider, which caused a component to dislodge and puncture a fuselage, which then caught fire.

Stretching The Budget.

The Army's acquisition chief laid out her service's plans to ride out projected budget cuts:

In Event Of Sequester, Entire Modernization Portfolio To Be 'Stretched Out'

The Army plans to ride out $26 billion in statutorily required cuts to its current spending plan between fiscal years 2016 to 2019, protecting its new weapons portfolio by stretching out planned procurement and deferring upgrades of the current inventory, according to a top service official.

Heidi Shyu, the Army's acquisition executive, said sequester cuts to the Pentagon's budget forced the service to "sacrifice" the Ground Combat Vehicle -- a big-ticket modernization effort to recapitalize the aging Bradley infantry fighting vehicle -- and should another round of sequester cuts be imposed in FY-16 as currently mandated, further program kills are not planned.

"What will happen is everything will get stretched out," Shyu told reporters at the Association of the United States Army annual convention. "A lot of our programs and upgrades will get stretched out."

On The Border.

The U.S. and Mexican military relationship appears to be improving:

ARNORTH Commander: Military Relationship With Mexico 'Best It's Ever Been'

Due in part to Russia's recent incursions into Eastern Europe, the United States' military-to-military relationship with Mexico has reached a high point, according to the commander of U.S. Army North.

"Our relationship is the best it's ever been," Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins told reporters Oct. 14 at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington. "There's been a realization on both sides of the border that we've got to work together."

Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula played a part in Mexico moving away from buying Russian equipment and toward stronger ties with the United States, Wiggins said. He added the American military is trying to form the same type of partnership with Mexico as it has with Canada.

More AUSA news:

Army May Break Up Major Network Program If Test Results Fall Short

A top Army official is signaling that the service could break up its Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program if the system fails reliability testing.

Army acquisition chief Heidi Shyu spoke about the program's Increment 2 portion during a Tuesday press conference at the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army in Washington. Soldiers are slated to critique the technology during a Network Integration Evaluation event in Ft. Bliss, TX, this month. Shyu said she will observe the event in person.

Sources said reliability will be the most important performance characteristic to watch, and that a passing grade during the tests is not a given.

Grab Bag.

The front page of this week's Inside the Navy:

Senior Navy Officials Tell Mabus LPD-17 Variant Is Best Option For LX(R)

Senior Navy officials made the case to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in a briefing last week that a design based on the LPD-17 San Antonio-class hull form is the best option for a notional LX(R) amphibious replacement fleet, according to several defense sources.

Navy Establishes Task Force On Across-The-Board Cyber Posture

The Navy recently established a task force to assess the service's cyber posture holistically across the organization, with a major goal being to determine who exactly in the service is responsible for cyber, according to a Navy official.

Northrop Tests Unmanned Minehunting Vehicle Planned For LCS Flight II

Northrop Grumman recently demonstrated the capabilities of its Mine Hunting Unmanned surface vehicle, which is planned ultimately to deploy off of the Navy's Flight II Littoral Combat Ship, according to a company official.

Marines Will Face An Electronic Warfare Gap In 2020 Once Prowlers Retire

The Marine Corps faces an electronic warfare gap around 2020 because the service is not replacing the EA-6B Prowler aircraft, which will retire in about five to six years, according to a service official.

-- John Liang

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