Keeping Up With The Jetsons

You want a flying car? We got your flying car right here, almost, maybe in a few years.

‘Flying Humvee’ moves ahead

A flying car that’s rugged enough for hardcore off-road driving, able to survive small-arms fire and can quickly take off and land is potentially just a few years shy of reality, according to reports sourced from DARPA, the U.S. military’s future-oriented research arm.

Aerospace companies Lockheed Martin and AAI Corporation have presented “feasible designs” to the military’s Transformer program, reports Aviation Week’s Ares blog, and have advanced to the next phase, which is to begin work on prototypes of the contraptions.




See also:
Is Darpa’s Fly-Drive Transformer on the Right Road?
The ‘flying Humvee’ gets off the ground as U.S. military plans first all-terrain, bullet-proof warcraft by next year
Flying humvee inches closer to reality
DARPA sets target date for testing ‘flying Humvee’
Coming soon: US army four-seater vehicle that can take off and land vertically
Progress to the Flying Humvee and enabling a revolution if door to door air travel up to 400 mile ranges
What’s The Point of Darpa’s ‘Flying Humvee,’ Exactly?
Military Developing Transformer To Solve Problems That Don’t Exist
Pentagon Wants Flying Humvee, For Some Reason
Transformer (TX)
Transformer (flying car)

I’m all for flying cars, but do we really need them for combat? The concept drawings of the Transformer TX makes it look like a huge ordnance magnet that, if it wasn’t blown up transitioning from ground to sky or vice versa, it would have so many complex moving parts that it would be undergoing maintenance for many more hours than it would be available for field use. Look at the trouble we already have keeping the V-22 Osprey in service.

/at a time when budget cutting and deficit reduction is the new national pastime, the Transformer TX would seem to be, in my opinion, a military toy too far

Stardust Memories

A mission well played and an efficient use of taxpayer money too. They wrung every last bit of scientific data out of every last dollar.

Lights go out on NASA’s Stardust comet mission

Fresh off a bonus flyby of comet Tempel 1 in February, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft fired its four main engines for more than two minutes Thursday, draining its fuel tank as managers said goodbye to the well-traveled comet chaser after more than 12 years in space.

With Stardust’s single hydrazine fuel tank emptied, the craft lost its ability to control its orientation and the probe’s solar panels were expected to lose track of the sun, and officials anticipated the mission’s battery charge would be exhausted within hours.

Stardust was also programmed to turn off its radio transmitters about 20 minutes after the burn, just in case it might interfere with some future mission using the same frequency.

NASA announced the last transmission from Stardust was received at 7:33 p.m. EDT (2333 GMT) Thursday. Officials monitored the burn from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and issued commands from the Lockheed Martin Corp. mission support center in Denver.

See also:
NASA and Lockheed Martin Say Goodbye to Historic Stardust Spacecraft
NASA’s Venerable Comet Hunter Wraps Up Mission
NASA’s Stardust: Good to the Last Drop
Inside NASA’s Space Funeral for the Comet-Hunting Stardust Probe
NASA kills off comet hunter
Comet-hunting spacecraft shuts down after 12 years
NASA Retires Comet-Hunter Stardust
NASA’s Stardust set to ‘burn to depletion’
NASA’s stardust empties its tank after 12 years
NASA’s ‘Comet Hunter’ Heads Off Into The ‘Sunset’
Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission
NASA – Stardust
Stardust (spacecraft)

Hopefully they put some type of return address on it.

/maybe, like a note in a bottle, something out there will find Stardust and bring it back home, as long as they’re good aliens that come in peace

A New Space Capsule For Not Going To The Moon

The original reason for developing Orion was to return to the moon as part of the Constellation Program, but Obama canceled that idea.

NASA’s Orion capsule, testing center unveiled

The first version of NASA’s new manned Orion space capsule is ready to begin a series of rigorous trials, in preparation for the vehicle’s first test flight in 2013.

NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, the aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, unveiled the prototype spacecraft and a spacious, state-of-the-art testing center Tuesday near Denver. Lockheed’s Space Operations Simulation Center (SOSC) will put Orion through various paces, testing its navigation, ranging, descent and landing systems, among other features.

“Lockheed Martin built this remarkable facility to develop and test spacecraft systems, further demonstrating our commitment to improve safety and advance capabilities for future U.S. human spaceflight,” John Karas, vice president and general manager for Lockheed’s human spaceflight programs, said in a statement.

See also:
NASA Space Capsule Begins Tests at New Proving Ground
NASA’s Orion Moon Craft Unveiled at New Spaceflight Facility
NASA’s Orion begins road to space travel
Lockheed Martin unveils first Orion spacecraft
Lockheed Unveils Orion Space Vehicle
Lockheed Martin Unveils First Orion Spacecraft
Lockheed reveals new simulation center, Orion spacecraft
The Future Of Space Exploration Takes Step Forward In Littleton
Lockheed Martin unveils Orion test facility
Lockheed Martin unveils Colorado training center for Orion
NASA – Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle
Orion (spacecraft)

Apparently, the Orion will be relegated to serving as an incredibly expensive emergency escape vehicle for the International Space Station, if the ISS is still even around sometime after 2013, when Orion might first be operational.

/you’d think we’d at least consider using Orion to ferry our astronauts to the ISS and back, instead of having to rely on the Russians, who keep jacking up the price, but no, apparently not

The Navy Gets A Drone . . .

. . . the Navy gets a drone, Fly-Fer the carrier, the Navy gets a drone.

Navy unveils new bat-winged stealth bomber; unmanned X-47B is military’s deadliest new drone

An unmanned, bat-winged stealth bomber made its first demo flight in California, marking the first step in the Navy’s development of a new generation of killer drones.

The experimental warplane, named the X-47B, took off from Edwards Air Force base, shot to 5,000 feet and flew a racetrack pattern over a dry lakebed during the 29-minute demo flight on Friday, the Navy said in a statement.

“Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy’s first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies,” said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the program manager for the plane, said in a statement.

Military leaders see the plane as a major shift from the current fleet of robotic aircraft.

Combat drones are usually controlled remotely by human pilots, but the X-47B can carry out extended missions controlled by a computer and is designed to fly faster and farther than existing jets, like the Predators and Reapers used in Afghanistan.

It’s also the first drone capable of taking off and landing aboard an aircraft carrier in the ocean.

See also:
X-47B Sorties Ramping Up
Northrop’s X-47B robotic jet makes first flight from Edwards Air Force Base
U.S. Navy X-47B unmanned aircraft successfully conducts first flight
X-47B stealth drone takes its first test flight
X-47B Unmanned Stealth Bomber’s Maiden Flight
Lockheed Martin Supports U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman in X-47B UCAS-D Successful First Flight
Unmanned X-47B bomber successfully completes first test-flight
X-47B unmanned Stealth Bomber performs successful maiden flight
GKN Aerospace partners with U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman for X-47B first flight
New, stealthy Navy drone makes its maiden flight
Robot X-47B stealth bomber test flight
Northrop Grumman Demonstrates Unmanned X-47B Plane
X-47B UCAS
Northrop Grumman X-47B

Well, the X-47B is certainly going to take up a lot of space on board a carrier, without the ability to contribute anything towards carrier defense.

/they’re probably looking forward to using it in conjunction with the CVX Next Generation Aircraft Carrier

Chinese Stealth?

As usual, it appears that the Chinese have been putting their stolen Western technology secrets to good use. Check out their new J-20 “stealth” fighter, look familiar? While it may be based on stolen Western technology, there’s questions as to how “advanced” it really is. One thing’s for sure, the damn thing is huge, as fighters go!

Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter In Taxi Tests

China’s first known stealth aircraft just emerged from a secret development program and was undergoing high-speed taxi tests late last week at Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute’s airfield. Said to be designated J-20, it is larger than most observers expected—pointing to long range and heavy weapon loads.

Its timing, Chengdu’s development record and official statements cast doubt on U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s 2009 prediction (in support of his decision to stop production of the Lockheed Martin F-22) that China would not have an operational stealth aircraft before 2020.

The debut of the J-20 was announced in a November 2009 interview on Chinese TV by Gen. He Weirong, deputy commander of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. The general said a “fourth-generation” fighter (Chinese terminology for a stealth fighter) would be flown in 2010-11 and be operational in 2017-19.

The J-20 is a single-seat, twin-engine aircraft, bigger and heavier than the Sukhoi T-50 and the F-22. Comparison with ground-service vehicles points to an overall length of 75 ft. and a wingspan of 45 ft. or more, which would suggest a takeoff weight in the 75,000-80,000-lb. class with no external load. That in turn implies a generous internal fuel capacity. The overall length is close to that of the 1960s General Dynamics F-111, which carries 34,000 lb. of fuel.

See also:
China ‘leaks’ sneak peek of first stealth aircraft going for a test run
A Chinese Stealth Challenge?
China Builds J-20 Stealth Fighter Prototype
China’s stealth jet is no cause for alarm: US
Reports Of China’s Stealth Fighter Come As Pentagon Proposes Cuts
‘Stealth’ Chinese Fighter Jet Photos No Accident
China’s J-20 stealth fighter on film
J-20 Stealth Fighter Jet: 5 Facts About China’s New Stealth Plane
China Uncloaks Stealth Fighter Prototype
China’s J-20 fighter conducts taxiing test in Chengdu; photos+
Chinese Stealth Fighter: J-20 Stealth Fighter vs. F-22 Raptor in 2018?

Well, thank God that Obama and Gates canceled the F-22 Raptor program, eh? We have less than 200 of them and we’re not making any more. Now, some may argue that the J-20 is no match for the F-22. However, as history has shown, what the Chinese lack in quality, they more than make up for in quantity.

/although the exact number of simultaneous targets that the F-22 can track is classified, it’s a large number, but it’s still a finite number, and the Chinese are well known for their indifference to casualties in order to achieve an objective

Typical Government Efficiency

And remember, this is the FBI, they’re on our first line of defense against terrorism.

Audit Cites FBI Technology Problems

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s struggles with technology are expected to continue to eat up millions of dollars and still leave agents and analysts wanting for a seamless electronic system to manage investigations, according to a federal audit released Wednesday.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI has already spent $405 million of the $451 million budgeted for its new Sentinel case-management system, but the system, as of September, was two years behind schedule and $100 million over budget.

Thomas Harrington, FBI associate deputy director, said the audit uses an outdated and “inflated cost estimate” that is “based on a worst-case scenario for a plan that we are no longer using.”

The FBI’s technology problems aren’t new, but they have potential consequences for the bureau’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, particularly at a time when the domestic terrorist threat is growing.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks exposed the FBI’s troubles with information sharing, and the bureau accelerated plans to replace its unwieldy case-management system with new software.

That technology project was called Trilogy and was supposed to deliver software called Virtual Case File that was to help FBI agents share investigative documents electronically. The inspector general called the project a fiasco and said the FBI and its contractors wasted $170 million and three years.

FBI Director Robert Mueller canceled Virtual Case File in 2005 and started a new project called Sentinel to be completed in 2009.

The system is supposed to provide agents and analysts with a secure Web-based system to search and manage evidence and get approvals for documents.

According to Mr. Fine’s audit, the system is still far from completion.

In July 2010, the FBI issued a stop-work order to contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and decided to take over management of the completion of Sentinel.

FBI officials now say they can complete the system by September 2011, with additional spending of $20 million, according to the audit.

Mr. Fine found cause to doubt those estimates. He cited a review conducted by Mitre, a research group that is funded by the federal government, that estimates it will cost another $351 million to complete the system.

Read the report:

Status of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Implementation of the Sentinel Project,
Audit Report 11-01, October 2010

See also:
FBI Sentinel project is over budget and behind schedule, say IG auditors
FBI behind schedule, over budget on computer system
Report sharply critical of delays, costs of FBI case management system
IG report hits FBI Sentinel program
FBI Computer System Behind Schedule, Over Budget After $405 Million Spent
FBI computer system years late and way over budget
More Computer Woes at FBI, New System Late Over Budget
IG: FBI’s Sentinel program still off-track, over budget
FBI’s computer woes continue, auditors say
Report: FBI case management system still falls short
FBI’s Sentinel project $100 million over budget, 2 years behind schedule
Report Finds FBI Computer System Over Budget, Behind Schedule

Are you telling me that it takes more than five years and over a half billion dollars to design a case management system and it’s still not finished? And why is Lockheed Martin designing the software, when did they become known as software designers? Even Microsoft, as crappy as they are, could have probably put out a product that works in less time and for less money.

/if this FBI computer system disaster is an example of how the U.S. government operates in this arena, I can only shudder to think what will happen and how much it’ll cost when they decide to upgrade the homeland security and military computer networks

Caught Pants Down With All Our Eggs In One Basket

Remember less than a year ago when Obama and Robert Gates cancelled the F-22 Raptor progam, the world’s premier air dominance fighter, which was already in service, because it was a “waste [of] billions of taxpayers dollars”? In their infinite wisdom, the dynamic defense duo decided to gamble almost America’s entire air combat future on a single, unproven design, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, that has yet to be put into production and won’t enter service in the foreseeable future.

Well, guess what?

GAO analyst says cost overruns, delays continue to plague F-35 program

A congressional auditor said Thursday that the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, “continues to struggle with increased costs and slowed progress,” leading to “substantial risk” that the defense contractor will not be able to build the jet on time or deliver as many aircraft as expected.

Michael Sullivan, the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s top analyst on Lockheed Martin’s jet fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing that the cost of the program has increased substantially and that development is 2 1/2 years behind schedule.

The United States plans to buy about 2,400 of the fighter jets for the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy. The projected cost for the program appears to have increased to $323 billion from $231 billion in 2001, when Bethesda-based Lockheed won the deal, according to Sullivan. Eight other countries — Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway — also plan to buy the jets.

The cost to build the plane is now expected to be $112 million per aircraft, according to a GAO auditor.

Sullivan said the program’s “negative outcomes” were “foreseeable as events have unfolded over several years.” He said that the cost increases are largely because Lockheed and the Pentagon are “trying to invent things and build them at the same time,” leading to costly changes in how the plane is being developed, built and tested. That continues to take “more time, money and effort than budgeted.”

He criticized the Defense Department, saying it “does not have a full, comprehensive cost estimate for completing the program,” and noted that it has “fallen short” of its expectations year after year. He said, “Constant program changes and turbulence have made it difficult to accurately and confidently measure progress and maturity of the aircraft system.”

See also:
Pentagon: F-35 fighter jet cost doubles
UPDATE 2-Price of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter soars
F-35 Fighters Now Double the Cost
Cost of F-35 Has Risen 60% to 90%, Military Says
Pentagon tells Senate panel that F-35 is more than 50 percent over cost
DoD: F-35 costs rise at least 50 percent
Joint Fighter Faces Critical Period
Donley: No JSF Alternatives Exist
Air Force: F-35 jet delayed by 2 years
Air Force: F-35 will be delayed, to cost significantly more
Joint Strike Fighter
F-35 Lightning II | Lockheed Martin
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
Joint Strike Fighter Program

It continues to amaze me as to how they fit all those government clowns into such a tiny car.

/as far as birds go, it’s quite clear now that one F-22 Raptor, already in the hand, is worth way more than two F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, still in the bush