Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Julian Assange on my Television

I was watching my television whilst lying in bed the other day when I was struck by how close together Julian Assange's eyes are.

I'm not saying that this the reason why he is a snivelling little rat but does at least suggest a genetic predisposition to rat like behavior?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Army developing new self-propelled howitzer

Army developing new self-propelled howitzer
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 1, 2011) -- The U.S. Army is developing a next-generation, 40-ton 155mm Howitzer artillery cannon able to fire precision rounds, accommodate additional armor protections and power more on-board electrical systems.

The M109 Paladin Integrated Management, or PIM, is slated to begin low-rate initial production by 2013, and features a 600-volt on-board power system designed to accommodate emerging networking technologies as they become available.

The PIM is the Army's modernization program for the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer fleet, said Lt. Col. Dan Furber, product manager, Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems.

"The [space, weight and power] buy-back the PIM will provide is huge," Furber said. "It allows us to add additional armor to the platform and it allows us to add additional capabilities such as automation or electronic packages."

The PIM's on-board power system harnesses technologies developed for the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, or NLOS-C, a 155mm Howitzer formerly developed for the Future Combat Systems, Manned-Ground Vehicles program. That program was canceled in 2009.

"We've also harnessed the electric drives from the NLOS-C, which are faster than the hydraulic drives used in the existing fleet," Furber said. "With the electric drives and rammer, we are finding more consistent ramming of the round which allows for more consistent muzzle velocities and we are a little more accurate and responsive with the electric drives."

Prototypes of the vehicle, built by BAE Systems, are now undergoing government testing in preparation for an low-rate initial production decision. The PIM vehicle's cannon rests on a chassis built with Bradley Fighting Vehicle common components including engine, transmission and tracks.

"Being common with Bradley decreases the logistics footprint that echelons above brigades will have to manage," Furber said. "In the long term, it will decrease the amount of money needed to sustain the Bradley and Self-Propelled Howitzer fleets. We will only have to manage one engine, for example, in the supply chain, so there are economies of scale that are beneficial to the Army."

The testing includes reliability, availability and maintainability mission testing as well as ballistic hull and turret testing. Both testing regimes are designed to prepare the program for a Milestone C production decision by 2013.

Like other 155mm artillery systems, the Paladin will be configured to fire precision munitions such as the Excalibur and the Precision Guidance Kit. The PIM is being designed to provide key fire-support for a range of potential combat operations to include conventional, hybrid, irregular and counterinsurgency scenarios.

"While PIM is associated with the heavy brigade combat team, it is a full-spectrum operational platform," Furber said. "For instance, it would allow the artillery crew supporting light infantry on a forward operating base to be protected from indirect fires -- something towed artillery pieces are not able to do."

The PIM includes a sustained rate of fire of one round per-minute and a maximum rate of fire of four rounds per-minute, said Ed Murray, Department of the Army Systems Coordinator - Artillery.

The Army plans to build 580 new Paladin PIM sets. Each set includes a self-propelled howitzer and an ammunition resupply vehicle. The existing fleet of M109A6 Howitzers are nearing obsolescence. Those weapons were originally designed in the 1950's and produced in the 1960's.

As a result, the current fleet exceeds its weight and power capacity and does not provide for growth in mobility and force protection, thus emphasizing that the PIM program is necessary to address the existing capability gaps for self-propelled artillery.

New York Guard aviators respond to Hurricane Irene

New York Guard aviators respond to Hurricane Irene
LATHAM. N.Y., Sept. 1, 2011 -- New York Army National Guard Aviation units have logged 150 hours of flight time and transported 60,000 pounds of food and water to isolated mountain towns and central distribution centers as state officials continue to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

The first flight of New York Army Guard aviators occurred on Sunday, just after the brunt of the storm passed over the state. Aviators flying from the Army Aviation Support Facility at Albany International Airport flew south into Greene County to see if they could assist in rescuing people in the town of Prattsville who were stranded by rising flood waters. The stranded civilians were rescued before the helicopters were needed that night.

At first light on Monday, the citizen-Soldier aviators of Task Force Aviation began flying surveillance missions so that state officials could begin to assess the impact of the storm. On both Long Island, where Hurricane Irene first hit, and Catskill Mountain towns where small creeks became raging rivers, the Guard UH-60s provided eyes in the sky.

In a joint operation, three New York Air National Guard HH-60 Pavehawk search and rescue helicopters, which had been evacuated from their base on Long Island to escape the storm, were dispatched to Schoharie County to conduct search and rescue missions if necessary.

The Task Force Aviation team also provided transportation to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate so they could conduct a tour of flood-ravaged regions.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the aviators began hauling food and water.

CH-47D Chinook heavy lift helicopters assigned to B Co. of the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation picked up Federal Emergency Management Agency supplies flowing into Stewart Air National Guard Base. The supplies were loaded into the Chinooks and flown to Belleayre Ski Center, a state-owned facility in Highmont, Ulster County.

At Belleayre, UH-60s from the Albany flight facility picked up water and food and airlifted them into Margaretville, Prattsville, Middleburgh, and other Greene and Schoharie County mountain towns which were not easily accessible by road.

Other flights carried food and water donated by the Regional Food bank of Northeastern New York. Soldiers packed the UH-60s full of food and bottled drinks and sent them on their way.