Straits come into Focus as Gulf Tension Mounts
The waters in the Arabian Gulf (or Persian Gulf), are highly
turbulent these days. The increasing presence of US naval
presence, and continued Iranian defiance of UN pressure
led Iran to raise the level of alert among its armed forces,
in anticipation of a possible attack. While potential nuclear
threat in the future is certainly a serious consideration,
Iran's domination of the strategic straits of Hurmoz is
the imminent threat.
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and Israeli Aerospace
Industries (IAI) have teamed to build and launch surveillance
satellites carrying an Israeli Synthetic Aperture Radar payload.
The US government is seeking operationally responsive capabilities
to address the challenge posed by the proliferation of anti-satellite
capabilities, particularly in China.
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced yesterday
(April 12, 2007) terminated the construction of the third Littoral
Combat Ship (LCS 3), after the Department of the Navy and Lockheed
Martin failed to reach an agreement on the terms of a modified
contract after the Navy realized that the cost of the first
Lockheed ship would cost up to $375 million, far above the initial
projection of $220 million. “LCS continues to be a critical
warfighting requirement for our Navy to maintain dominance in
the littorals and strategic choke points around the world,”
said Winter. “While this is a difficult decision, we recognize
that active oversight and strict cost controls in the early
years are necessary to ensuring we can deliver these ships to
the fleet over the long term.”
BAE Systems recently conducted 20 successful firings of a 155mm
GPS-guided artillery projectile. The company is leading one
of two teams competing for the PGK program. The recent test
demonstrated the capability of the GPS guided high explosive,
rocket assisted round to hit targets at a range 20.5 km with
50 meter (CEP) accuracy, which is the threshold of PGK increment
1. BAE Systems and ATK will participate in the 'shoot-off' which
will determine the final winner of the program.
A Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) made by Vision Systems
International, LLC (VSI) recently flew for the first time on
an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The HMDS provides the
pilot video with imagery in day or night conditions combined
with precision symbology to give the pilot situational awareness
and tactical capability. The HMDS has been in development for
five years and recently completed all required safety of flight
tests toward full certification.
20 Global Hawk Begins Test Flights
The first RQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system
successfully completed its first flight on March 1. The first
Block 20 aircraft is the 17th Global Hawk air vehicle to be
built. Following a final series of operational testing and evaluation
at Edwards AFB, the new Global hawk will be delivered to the
Air Force's 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base
near Sacramento, California.
Center to Test Networked, Panoramic Imagers
A new, panoramic imaging sensor will be tested on an unmanned
aerial vehicle, for testing by the Office of Naval Research
for potential use in security and force protection applications.
The system will comprise panoramic imaging hardware and software
developed by EyeSee360 Inc., integrated with the Augusta Systems
technologies' SensorPort and SensorBridge which provide intelligent
image processing within the sensor level, thus establishing
a network of distributed sensors, interconnected by wireless
links. The sensor systems will be utilized on-board unmanned
aircraft and in fixed-location, field deployments for convoy
protection, critical infrastructure protection, perimeter security
and a host of other uses.
The U.S. Department of Defense is planning to demonstrate
'Internet Routing In Space' (IRIS) under a Joint Capability
Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program recently awarded to
Intelsat. According to Bill Shernit, President and CEO of Intelsat
General, "IRIS extends the Internet into space, integrating
satellite systems and the ground infrastructure for warfighters,
first responders and others who need seamless and instant communications,"
The IRIS payload will support network services for voice, video
and data communications, enabling military units or allied forces
to communicate with one another using Internet protocol and
existing ground equipment.
ViaSat, Inc. (Nasdaq:VSAT) will provide an upgrade for the
satellite network serving the US Army main tactical situational
awareness system, known as FBCB2-BFT
(follow-on Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below - Blue
Force Tracking). The upgrade will improve global coverage, increase
network capacity and reduce latency, especially in dense operational
After a five years of stagnation, the satellite market is finally
rising and is expected to enter positive cycle; compared to
80 satellites launched per year, in the period 2000 –
2005. However, in 2006 the wind has changed with 32% increase
in the number of satellite launched. According to Marco Caceres,
senior space analyst for Teal. "But something changed in
2006. We launched 107 satellites, or a 32% increase over each
of the previous two years. This represents more satellites than
we have launched since 2000."