UAE’s successfully launches most advanced satellite in space

 The launch of the Earth observation satellite took place on October 29, at 8.08am UAE-time onboard the H2-A rocket, which was also carrying Japan's environment satellite, GoSat-2, along with KhalifaSat.

The launch was broadcast live on the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre's (MBRSC) website and it showed that GoSat-2 was successfully separated from the rocket and reached the orbit at 8.25am. However, the separation of KhalifaSat and its arrival on its desired orbit destination happened in 100 minutes from 8.25am, according to the live stream.

A team of 70 Emirati engineers from MBRSC built KhalifaSat, which will be the third satellite the center has launched into space. DubaiSat1 was launched in 2009 and DubaiSat2 in 2013. Commercial and communication satellites by the UAE - YahSat-1,2 and Thuraya 1,2,3 - have also been launched before.

 However, KhalifaSat is set to be the most advanced Earth observation satellite for the UAE, as it will take high-quality images.  

 Timeline of the launch (UAE time)

 9.53 am: Tanegashima Space Centre says they are about to send footage from cameras on the launch vehicle

 9.49am: KhalifaSat's insertion into orbit successful

 KhalifaSat separates from the rocket. The satellite reaches orbit at 613km above Earth's surface

 9.35am: The H2-A No 40 flight proceeds beyond the tracking range. The Tanageshma Space Center team stands by to acquire signals from the launch vehicle

 8.25am: KhalifaSat to separate and insert into orbit in 100minutes

 8.25 am: GoSat-2 successfully separates from the rocket and has inserted into orbit

 8.23 am: The rocket's second stage separates from the main rocket

 8.21 am: The flight status is normal as rocket has 570km, travelling at a velocity of 5.3km/sec

 8.16 am: The rocket reaches 390km above Earth's surface. Trajectory remains normal.

 8.13 am: The first engine is cut off and separation to occur at 6 minutes and 46 seconds, followed by ignition of Engine 2 to place GoSat-2 at its desired orbit. Engine 2 to cut off at 15 minutes into flight.

 8.06 am: T-2 minutes to liftoff

 8.08am: KhalifaSat blasts off into space onboard the H2-A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.

 Japan's environment satellite GoSat-2 is also onboard. The rocket will accelerate for 4 minutes and 20 seconds before initial separation.

 KhalifaSat is the most advanced Earth observation satellite a team of Emirati engineers have ever developed.

 It will be able to take high-quality images, which will be provided to the UAE government for free by the MBRSC and at a cost to international entities.

 However, they will be offered free of charge if they are requested for humanitarian causes. The satellite will also monitor environmental changes locally and internationally to support global efforts to preserve the environment. It is expected to provide detailed imagery of the ice caps at the North and South Poles, helping to detect the effects of global warming.

First Pakistan space mission to launch in 2022

 Pakistan Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry, revealed recently that country's first space mission will be launched in 2022.

This will also see the first Pakistani go into space as part of the space mission that will be concluded with China's assistance, the minister said. A contract in this regard has been signed between a Chinese company and Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), Chaudhry added, according to Geotv report.

In July this year, Pakistan launched two indigenously built satellites into the orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China. The satellites were launched onboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Gobi desert in China. One of the satellites launched was a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1) - a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite. With the PRSS1, Pakistan has become one of the few countries to have its own remote sensing satellite in the orbit. While, the second test satellite launched was a PAK-TES-1A, developed by SUPARCO to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country.

According to an official speaking on the condition of anonymity, the launch of satellites would help end the country's dependency on commercial satellites for information related to weather, environment and agriculture. The official added that the two satellites launched, were transported to China as Pakistan lacks the required infrastructure to launch objects into space, according to reports in The Express Tribune.


Safran to provide next-generation engine turbines for hybrid electric aircraft

 Zunum Aero has selected France’s Safran Helicopter Engines to provide a new-generation engine turbine for its hybrid-to-electric airplane, due for first flight in the early 2020s.

Safran’s Ardiden 3Z engine will drive the electrical generator for Zunum’s 12-seat ZA10 aircraft, supplementing the energy stored in the plane’s batteries with peak power of 500 kilowatts during key stages of flight and over long ranges, Zunum said in a news release. The aircraft will be able to cruise and land on turbo-generator power alone, offering full redundancy.

The ZA10 is being designed for a range of 700 miles, with an eye toward enabling affordable operations at tens of thousands of underused regional-size airports around the world.

Zunum, which is headquartered in Bothell, Wash., says the aircraft should drive operating costs down to 8 cents per available seat mile, or $250 per hour. That’s said to be 60 to 80 percent lower than comparable conventional aircraft of comparable size.

 If the business model works out the way Zunum says it will, it could open up new types of low-fare air routes — for example, a connection between the Seattle’s Boeing Field and British Columbia’s Whistler ski area for $79. In May, Zunum said its first planes would go to JetSuite, a California-based private aviation company that’s a partner of JetBlue Airways.

 Florent Chauvancy, Safran Helicopter Engines’ executive vice president for OEM sales, said the Ardiden 3Z engine “represents a very powerful complement to the ZA10 because of its exceptional performance, along with low operating and maintenance costs.” Zunum and Safran are counting on advanced materials and integrated life-cycle management to reduce the engine’s operating costs by extending the life of critical components.

 The two companies have an important ally in common: Boeing is one of Zunum Aero’s financial backers, and it’s also one of Safran’s power-system partners. Zunum has also received investment capital from JetBlue Technology Ventures and an $800,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Clean Energy Fund.

 The current schedule calls for the certification process to begin in the 2020-2022 time frame, but that timetable is heavily dependent on advances in battery technology. The Seattle Times quoted Knapp as saying the schedule for starting commercial passenger service has slipped from 2022 to mid-2023.

Scientists find first signs of ‘exomoon’

 The exomoon, which is a satellite that orbits a planet outside our solar system, appears to be revolving around the Jupiter-sized gas giant Kepler-1625b.

The exomoon itself is believed to be around the size of Neptune, which is about four times bigger than earth.

There are no moons anywhere near as big in our solar system.

The scientists admitted their findings are not definitive, however, as with any new discovery in space.

One of the astronomers, David Kipping, said, “We’ve tried our best to rule out other possibilities such as spacecraft anomalies, other planets in the system or stellar activity, but we’re unable to find any other single hypothesis which can explain all of the data we have.”

 He added: “We hope to re-observe the star again in the future to verify or reject the exomoon hypothesis.

 “And if validated, the planet-moon system - a Jupiter with a Neptune-sized moon - would be a remarkable system with unanticipated properties, in many ways echoing the expected discovery of hot Jupiters in the early days of planet hunting."

 The breakthrough was made when Assistant Professor Kipping and Graduate Fellow Alex Teachey noticed intriguing anomalies in the observations they made of 284 Kepler-discovered-planets.

 Mr Kipping said, “We saw deviations and wobbles in the light curve that caught our attention.”

 The scientists made the initial observations on the Kepler Space Telescope and used their evidence to secure 40 hours time on the Hubble.

 They noticed that after Kepler-162b crossed in front of its star there was another decrease in measurable brightness 3.5 hours late.

Mr Kipping said the moon was “trailing the planet like a dog following its owner on a leash”.

 While both the planet and its moon are within the habitable zone of their star (Kepler 1625) it is thought that both are gas planets are therefore incapable of hosting life.

 The planet and its moon seem to have a similar size ratio that of the Earth and the Moon.

Female pilots make debut in Malaysia Airlines

 Pearl Wendy Mak, Wang Wen Chien and Nur Waie Hidayah Mohamad Rasidin have broken the norm, as previously most women in the aviation industry would opt to work as flight attendants or ground staff.

According to the International Society of Women Pilots' estimation in 2017 out of 130,000 pilots in the world, only 3,000 (three percent) were female pilots.

Captain Mak, who has been flying for 25 years, acknowledged that flying an aircraft is not an easy job for women but this is the new era where women are making inroads into sectors that were previously men's exclusive domain.

Mak initially wanted to be an aircraft engineer, then toyed with the idea of becoming a flight engineer. However, when told that the flight engineer's role was becoming obsolete, she ended up taking flying. 

"So long as you do your part, work as a team, and forget that you will be treated differently, you will not be seen as a man or woman but just a pilot,” Mak told Bernama.

Her advice to ladies who want to take up the challenge in the aviation industry is that they should understand and be in love with aviation itself, besides being disciplined and motivated.  “Constantly read your books, study hard and perfect your skills. At the end of it, you may eventually become a commander or be upgraded to a bigger aircraft,” said Mak whose twin sister is also into flying. 

Meanwhile, Second Officer Wang's dream of becoming a pilot began when her father took her for a ‘Fly for Fun' one-day pilot course in Subang when she was 15.

“I was fascinated when the aircraft took off with the pilot seated next to me, he actually taught me to do some manoeuvres in the sky and I found it really cool,” said Wang who initially wanted to venture into IT.

Wang earned her wings in Sydney, Australia and completed her conversion course at the Malaysian Flying Academy in 2016 before joining Malaysia Airlines as a cadet pilot in August 2017.

Her advice to young women who want to take to the skies, is just go for it.

“Do what you like, it may not be easy at the beginning but never give up halfway through because you never know what the end result will be,” said Wang whose wish now is to become a captain in eight years time. 

Wang says she does not find it a problem to fit in with her predominately male colleagues in the aviation sector and does not see it as a glamorous job but a profession and a vocation.

“As a pilot one has to work different hours and days as rostered and we have to do quick transits,” she said. 

Her father who is also a pilot inspired Nur Waie Hidayah, a cadet pilot with Malaysia Airlines since December 2017. 

“I grew up in Abu Dhabi, where my father is based. After graduating from high school in 2013, I returned to Malaysia and went to a flying school in Melaka.

“My 18 months training there was tough and it took a lot of support from my loved ones and a lot of studying, willpower and strict discipline to complete the course.

Mak, Wang and Nur Waie Hidayah were honored at the MAS Crew Graduation ceremony on Aug 11 where 111cabin crew and pilots graduated.

During his speech at the graduation ceremony, Malaysia Airlines Group CEO Capt Izham Ismail said: “I'm very proud that for the first time Malaysia Airlines has three amazing, strong and resilient women graduating as pilots today. 

"It is my hope that the future of Malaysia Airlines includes many more female captains flying our aircraft and making the country proud”. 

Malaysia Airlines recently started its female pilot program, which is now open for enrolment. 

WAI hosts ‘Girls in Aviation Day’ at Orlando International Airport

 The Central Florida Chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI) recently hosted a “Girls in Aviation Day” event in conjunction with other chapters from around the world at Orlando International Airport to provide young women from Orlando-area high schools the opportunity to learn about the many career fields available in the growing aviation industry.

“It was truly an honor to participate in ‘Girls in Aviation Day’ with our valued industry partners in the Orlando area and give young women the opportunity to learn about and experience the vast array of aviation career opportunities that are available to them”

 The free event, attended by 40 girls in grades 9 – 12, was a team effort sponsored by United Airlines, Silver Airways, Flight Training Professionals and Sheltair, along with participating partners, including the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority K-9 Team, Wildlife Control and Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters, Archer First Response Systems, Signature Flight Support Orlando, National Aviation Academy and Wings Financial Credit Union.

 “It was truly an honor to participate in ‘Girls in Aviation Day’ with our valued industry partners in the Orlando area and give young women the opportunity to learn about and experience the vast array of aviation career opportunities that are available to them,” said Silver Airways flight crew member Donna Hendrickson who started her aviation career as a flight attendant and is now a pilot. “As the air transport industry continues to grow, we want to inspire young women to pursue their passion for aviation and instill the confidence that anything is possible when you pursue your dreams.”

 “We are extremely grateful for all of the support we received from the Central Florida community, including Archer First Response Systems, Entenmann's, Flight Training Professionals, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, National Aviation Academy, Orlando International Airport Fire-Rescue, Sheltair Aviation, Silver Airways, United Airlines, Wings Federal Credit Union and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron,” said WAI Treasurer Central Florida Chapter Laurel Ross. “Our hope is that the girls we reached this weekend will go on and make big differences in the aviation and aerospace industries.”

 “Today was inspirational, motivational and energizing – thank you,” said Anna Perrin, Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant and one of WAI’s Central Florida Chapter’s newest members. “All your hard work made the event possible and seeing the support and admiration everyone shared with each other. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful organization. I saw dreams come alive in those young women today and being able to share my love for aviation with strong accomplished women was phenomenal."

 During the full-day event, the young women had the opportunity to meet and talk with women in many aviation career fields and participate in various aviation-themed presentations.

Cranfield Aviation Training unveils e-learning platform

 The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given South African-based Cranfield Aviation the initial go ahead to put six of its courses on the e-learning platform.

With over 80 courses available to all flight deck, cabin crew personnel and flight engineers, Cranfield has remained relevant and embraced all advancements in the aviation industry over the past 20 years. This is made evident with its recent training addition, a remote pilot license training for drones.

“We realized that the modern-day learner is no longer content with training in a classroom environment,” said Mandy Tebbit, Director for Cranfield Aviation Training.

 “To ensure our longevity as the leading provider of training in aviation, we needed to meet the demands of the new learner and embarked on a search for an e-learning platform that was feature rich yet cost-effective, and selected aNewSpring.”

 Tebbit is confident that once the CAA see the results and benefits that online learning provides, approval for other non-practical courses will follow.

 “We see a huge demand internationally for human factor training in other industries such as mining as well as oil and gas,” she said.

 “Our goal is to take these courses outside of the aviation industry using the aNewSpring platform.”

 Paul Hanly, Co-Founder of New Leaf Technologies, said: “We are excited about this project and look forward to the results that we know e-learning will bring to this traditionally conservative industry.”

Kenya signs aviation training deal with FAA

 Kenya has signed a new aviation training deal with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In the agreement, the East African School of Aviation (EASA) will become the latest FAA training venue in Africa for teaching Flight Safety Inspector courses.

“EASA is not just a training venue but a partner in Aviation training.

“Initially, the courses will be delivered by FAA staff but eventually local capacity to deliver the courses will be built through Train the Trainers program,” said Capt. Gilbert M Kibe, Director General, KCAA.

 The signing of the training agreement also signifies Kenya’s commitment to the growth and development of Civil Aviation together with improving Flight Safety in Africa, he added.

CAE unveils visual solution program for fighters and fast-jet training

 CAE announced the launch of the CAE Medallion MR e-Series Visual System, a complete and turnkey visual solution designed specifically for military fighters and fast-jet training.

The CAE Medallion MR e-Series Visual System is a cost-effective, fully integrated visual solution that includes a back-projection 360-degree dome display system, laser projectors and CAE’s proven CAE MedallionTM image generators. The CAE Medallion MR e-Series is available for new training systems as well as for updates to existing systems. It has been designed to deliver the industry’s most realistic and immersive virtual environment critical for training military fighter and fast-jet pilots,

 “CAE has always been at the forefront of technology leadership and innovation in the training and simulation industry, as evidenced by our recent commitment to invest in new technologies to revolutionize pilot and aircrew training,” said Gene Colabatistto, CAE’s Group President, Defence & Security. “The launch of our CAE Medallion MR e-Series Visual System is yet another example of CAE listening to the needs and requirements of our customers, and then investing in internal research and development to produce a product that will set the industry benchmark for fighter and fast-jet virtual training.”

 The CAE Medallion MR e-Series Visual System offers an ideal visual solution for a range of fighter and fast-jet training tasks, such as formation and low-level flying, air-to-air refueling, and target identification. The system can also be used for tactical/attack helicopter training requirements.  Some of the key features included in the CAE Medallion MR e-Series Visual System include:

 Unlimited field-of-view in a 360-degree dome display (optional 225-degree display solution available);

Seamless, integrated visual solution combining display, laser projectors and image generators to deliver high-fidelity virtual environment with near eye-limiting resolution and industry-leading brightness;

Head movement compensation virtually eliminates parallax errors;

3D depth perception through active eyewear;

Fully correlated synthetic environment;

Optimized visual environment for night-vision goggles (NVG);

Support for Open Geospatial Consortium Common Database (OGC CDB) to enhance interoperability and distributed mission operations/training;

Space-saving and compact design compared to traditional fast-jet full-mission simulators;

“The CAE Medallion MR e-Series Visual System is a purpose-built product that will deliver the industry’s most immersive and realistic visual system for fast-jet training at a competitive price point,” said Marc St-Hilaire, CAE’s Chief Technology Officer. “Our military customers operating 4th and 5th generation fighters as well as advanced trainer aircraft all recognize the need to download a range of training tasks to simulation-based training.  We have developed a fully-integrated product that will enable them to cost-effectively address their demanding training requirements, and optimize the value, effectiveness and success of live training exercises.”

 The comprehensive CAE MR (Mission Reality) Series training equipment suite covers all phases of fixed-wing and rotary-wing training for military aircrews. The product suite ranges from CAE Simfinity ground school desktop and procedures trainers to fixed-base flight training devices and full-mission simulators.

ST Engineering divests specialty vehicles subsidiary in India

 Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) recently announced that its indirect subsidiary, SDG Kinetics Pte. Ltd. (SDGK) will divest 100% of LeeBoy India Construction Equipment Private Limited (LBI) in two tranches to Polyhose India Private Limited (Polyhose) for a consideration of US$1.05m (about S$1.44m). The consideration was arrived at after taking into account current market conditions, financial position of LBI and future business prospects.

Closing for the first-tranche divestment comprising 73% stake took place on 31 October 2018.  The balance stake of 27% will be transferred to Polyhose upon receipt of acknowledgment for relevant regulatory filings.

 As part of the transaction, ST Engineering Land Systems Ltd., through SDGK, made a capital injection of INR 344m (about S$6.5m) to enable LBI to discharge its outstanding bank loans of the same amount.

 LBI was set up in 2010 to manufacture and distribute road construction equipment in India. The divestment is a result of ST Engineering’s ongoing business review to streamline capabilities and optimise resources within the Group.

 The transaction is not expected to have any material impact on the net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year.

Turkish Technic grows third-party MRO business

 Turkish Technic has grown its third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) to 25% of its total revenue, up from 15% two years ago, through more efficient use of its existing facilities.

“Within two years, through a Turkish Airlines efficiency project, we have been able to increase our third-party work from 15% to 25% [of revenues], even though the Turkish Airlines’ fleet is increasing,” Turkish Technic SVP-quality assurance Birkan Güneralp told delegates at MRO Europe in Amsterdam Oct. 18.

The gains have been made by maximizing use of the company’s current hangar facilities and infrastructure, through better planning and by analyzing work after it is completed.

“In terms of customer-oriented delays—which are not our responsibility—we helped them to overcome the problems that they face, in areas like procurement and getting solutions from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs),” Güneralp said. By minimizing this disruption, it has helped free up slots to take on more work, without physical expansion.

Turkish Technic is now turning its attention to landing-gear overhauls. Güneralp said the aim is to make the process “more lean and predictable.” This, in turn, means the company can plan and allocate man-hours more efficiently.

Güneralp said staff buy-in is essential to take an initiative from project-level to wider operational roll-out. “When you convince your team that it is beneficial to them, that it will add value to daily work, that will help with the culture change,” he said.

Engine MRO demand remains strong

 Rising fuel costs are not cutting into demand for MRO services even among older aircraft, engine aftermarket providers report, contributing to a logjam at many overhaul shops.

MTU Aero Engines reported a 17.2% jump in third-quarter commercial MRO revenue, leading it to revise its full-year projection to an eye-opening "mid 20s." While International Aero Engines V2500 work continues to be the company's primary aftermarket revenue generator, executives cited unexpectedly high demand on several older models, notably the GE CF6 and Pratt & Whitney PW2000.

"CF680 we [are seeing] an exceptionally high-growth year, low to mid-teens in the third quarter," said MTU CEO Reiner Winkler. "What we see is a huge demand, especially out of the freight operators."

 The trend is also supported by new-program challenges that are keeping aircraft from being delivered, or creating in-service reliability problems. The Trent 1000 issues affecting the Boeing 787 fleet are well-documented, forcing operators to fly older widebodies in their place. Rolls-Royce recently disclosed it will not meet full-year targets for its large engines, with the Trent 7000 suffering the most. This could mean some A330neos are delayed, keeping a few older aircraft in service.

Meanwhile, rising fuel prices that are pressuring airline profit margins do not seem to be affecting fleet plans--at least not yet. While prices are still reasonable by historical standards, they have risen nearly 40% in the last year, IATA's global jet fuel price monitor shows.

"There is still a very, very strong demand for also used 757s, used 767s," said Winkler. "So we don’t see any sign of slowing demand in that [older-aircraft] space."

Meanwhile, Safran reported a 19.2% increase in its civil engine MRO business last quarter, and now expects a full-year increase of perhaps 12%. Spare parts, which make up about 2/3 of the company's aftermarket business, are leading the way.

"We received more shop visits than what we had anticipated, and the value per shop visit was also higher than what we had anticipated," said Philippe Petitcolin, Safran CEO. "The traffic is there and again, we've seen, as of today, absolutely no impact of the oil price."

The natural shop-visit cycle of the V2500 and the CFM International CFM56--which is Safran's primary MRO revenue generator--are part of the upswing. But older aircraft staying in service longer, including some early A320s and 737s that are powered by the venerable engines, is another. Retirements continue to be down, which means less feed-stock for used parts providers. That drives up new-parts sales, while the entire environment lifts shop-visit demand.

"It's very difficult to get a slot in the engine market," said Jonathan Berger, managing director at Alton Aviation Consultancy. "We're seeing at many MROs, engines lining up waiting to be inducted, because they can't get parts. We're seeing significant TAT [increases], and a lot of MROs are paying their [daily delay] fines. That's just the state of the industry right now.

"The engine piece-part supply chain is maxed out," he added. "There is a shortage of material in the market. Old engines, new engines--you name it."


Italy to cut off billion dollars from its defense spending

 Italy will cut €450 million  ($512.3 million) from its planned defense spending in 2019 by suspending helicopter and missile purchases and canceling an office move by the defense ministry to help shore up social welfare and tax cuts, a defense source has told Defense News.

Italy’s total outlay on defense in 2019 will be announced in parliament in the next few days, as Rome’s populist government seeks support by members of parliament for its state budget, which contains billions of euros for a new wage for the unemployed.

To free up funds to cover spending, Rome has made its cut to the defense budget, just as most European states are increasing their military outlay.

 During 2019 all ongoing purchases of NH-90 helicopters for the Italian Army and Navy will be suspended, the source said.

 Italy is planning to buy 60 NH-90s for the Army and 56 for the Navy at a total cost of €4 billion, with the procurement due to wind up in 2024.

 Upgrades to Tornado aircraft will also be suspended, said the source, who added that the two measures would save €370 million.

 Italy’s purchase of the MBDA Camm-Er missile defense system will also be put off for a year, saving €30 million in 2019, the source added.

 Another €50 million — to reach the total of €450 million — will come from the cancellation of plans to move the headquarters of Italy’s armed forces out of their separate buildings in Rome’s city center to a unified HQ in the suburbs.

 The plan, dubbed ‘Italy’s Pentagon,’ was due to cost a total of €1.1 billion, the source said.

 The source added that F-35 purchases would be “slowed” in order to spread out payments. Italy is currently planning to buy 90 aircraft.

 Italian defense minister Elisabetta Trenta will discuss the plan with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis when she visits the United States, the source said.

Tapestry Solutions wins contract to provide ITV for US central command

 Boeing, through its subsidiary Tapestry Solutions, has received an award from the US Army to provide In-Transit Visibility (ITV) for ground transportation logistics in the US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of operations. The contract calls for the deployment of Tapestry’s Global Distribution Management System (GDMS) to track and manage civilian contractors who move Army equipment and supplies throughout Kuwait, the Trans-Arabian Network and Iraq.

The contract expands upon Tapestry’s current GDMS/ITV program in Afghanistan. Tapestry’s commercial software solution has served as a key element of the US military’s Host Nation Trucking and subsequent National Afghan Trucking programs since 2009.

 “The award further illustrates our customers’ confidence in our products, services and people,” said Michael Spencer, vice president, Global Sales & Marketing, Tapestry Solutions. “Our dedicated GDMS team manages thousands of transportation movements per month in Afghanistan – working 24 hours a day to safeguard people, data and cargo. We look forward to providing the same level of exceptional service in surrounding nations.”

 GDMS acts as a central data fusion system that enables the US military to have near real-time visibility, tracking metrics and accountability for all registered commercial vehicles. At the core of GDMS is a centralized database that links cargo movements with vehicles equipped with GPS-based transponders. The system provides panic alarms/alerts to contractors as they pass hazards and checkpoints, and displays the mission data on topographical maps. The system includes instant replay functions that allow for course-of-action analysis.

 As an administrative tool, GDMS supports transportation management requests, captures actual delivery times, supports invoicing and validates demurrage charges. The data, captured in the GDMS-Mission Tracker (GDMS-MT) database, also assists with insurance claims, investigations and the military’s litigation efforts.

 For CENTCOM, Tapestry will deploy the ITV/GDMS solution to Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Jordan. GDMS will supplement the military’s current radio frequency ITV infrastructure in the region and provide a common operating picture as supplies are transported to tactical operations centers, movement control teams and higher military echelons.

US Army pilots fly OPV helicopter to demonstrate technology by Sikorsky

 US Army pilots exercised supervised autonomy to direct an optionally piloted helicopter (OPV) through a series of missions to demonstrate technology developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The series of flights marked the first time that non-Sikorsky pilots operated the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), a modified S-76B commercial helicopter, as an OPV aircraft.

"Future vertical lift aircraft will require robust autonomous and optimally-piloted systems to complete missions and improve safety," said Chris Van Buiten, vice president, Sikorsky Innovations. "We could not be more thrilled to welcome Army aviators to the cockpit to experience first-hand the reliability of optimally-piloted technology developed by the innovative engineers at Sikorsky and DARPA. These aviators experienced the same technology that we are installing and testing on a Black Hawk that will take its first flight over the next several months."

 SARA, which has more than 300 hours of autonomous flight, successfully demonstrated the advanced capabilities developed as part of the third phase of DARPA's Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program. Pilots on board and pilots on the ground operated the aircraft at different times. Sikorsky's MATRIX™ Technology autonomous software and hardware, which is installed on SARA, executed various scenarios including:

Automated Take Off and Landing: The helicopter autonomously executed take-off, traveled to its destination, and autonomously landed

Obstacle Avoidance: The helicopter's LIDAR and cameras enabled it to detect and avoid unknown objects such as wires, towers and moving vehicles

Automatic Landing Zone Selection: The helicopter's LIDAR sensors determined a safe landing zone

Contour Flight: The helicopter flew low to the ground and behind trees

The recent Mission Software Flight Demonstration was a collaboration with the U.S. Army's Aviation Development Directorate, Sikorsky and DARPA. The Army and DARPA are working with Sikorsky to improve and expand ALIAS capabilities developed as a tailorable autonomy kit for installation in both fixed wing airplanes and helicopters.

 Over the next few months, Sikorsky will for the first time fly a Black Hawk equipped with ALIAS. The company is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify ALIAS/MATRIX technology so that it will be available on current and future commercial and military aircraft.

 "We're demonstrating a certifiable autonomy solution that is going to drastically change the way pilots fly," said Mark Ward, Sikorsky Chief Pilot, Stratford, Conn. Flight Test Center. "We're confident that MATRIX Technology will allow pilots to focus on their missions. This technology will ultimately decrease instances of the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT)."

 Through the DARPA ALIAS program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot directed autonomy that will give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program will improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.

British armed forces to allow women in combat roles

 Women will be allowed to apply for all military roles in the British armed forces, including in frontline infantry units and the Royal Marines, the government has announced.

Women will also be able to put themselves forward for selection for specialist units including the SAS and SBS. The Ministry of Defense described the move as historic.

The defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, made the announcement during a land power demonstration on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

He said that with immediate effect, women already serving in the army could transfer into infantry roles. Those not currently serving would be able to apply for infantry roles in December, with new recruits starting basic training in April 2019.

Williamson also confirmed that women were now able to apply to join the Royal Marines, with selection starting before the end of the year. Training courses will begin at Royal Marines Commando training center in Lympstone, Devon, in early 2019.

While women have for many years served in war zones in a huge array of jobs, they were previously not allowed to serve in ground close combat’ roles. The ban was lifted in 2016 by the then prime minister, David Cameron.

He said at that time that the change would be phased in, and from November 2016 women were allowed into the Royal Armored Corps. In September 2017 the RAF Regiment – the air force’s fighting force – allowed women.

The army now has around 35 women either serving in or being trained to join the Royal Armored Corps, with a number of personnel already being deployed to Estonia and Oman.

An MoD spokesperson said, “While the military does not necessarily expect large numbers of women to apply for ground close combat roles, the changes are aimed at creating opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds and making the most of their talents.

“By making all branches and trades of the military open to everyone, regardless of their gender, the armed forces are building on their reputation of being a leading equal opportunities employer.”

The land power demonstration on Salisbury Plain involved some of the first women to join the Royal Armored Corps.