Archive for August, 2008

Advanced engine, hearing protection on display at museum

Threading the Needle

Threading the Needle

A US  Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bomber creates the “Sight of Sound” as a condensation bubble forms when the jet breaks the sound barrier. Find “Threading the Needle” as a framed art print, poster, or 12-month calendar print at The PatriArt Gallery.

The first aircraft to fly by pulsed-detonation engine power, along with associated hearing protection technology — both developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB (OH) — became additions to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force during an Aug. 25 ceremony at the museum annex at the base.

Members of the AFRL’s Propulsion Directorate developed the pulsed-detonation engine, which logged a record-breaking manned flight Jan. 31 at Mohave, Calif. 

With test pilot Pete Siebold at the controls of the modified Long EZ aircraft manufactured by Scaled Composites, the pulsed-detonation engine, or PDE, achieved a speed of over 120 mph and 60 to 100 feet altitude, producing more than 200 pounds of thrust. It marked the first successful flight powered by pulse-detonation technology.

During the flight, Mr. Siebold wore an Attenuating Custom Communications Earpiece System, or ACCES, integrated with a standard military flight helmet for acoustic protection from noise generated by the engine. The deep-insert, custom-molded ACCES technology is a product of an earlier collaboration between members of the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Warfighter Interface Division, Battlespace Acoustics Branch and Westone Laboratories, Inc., under a cooperative research and development agreement.

The demo flight culminated a collaborative effort led by researchers in the Propulsion Directorate and its on-site contractor Innovative Science Solutions, Inc. and supported by those in AFRL’s Human Effectiveness and Air Vehicles directorates. The team overcame a multitude of technical challenges to prove that pulse detonation is a feasible technology that would be more economical and use less fuel than traditional jet engines.

Instead of burning fuel for propulsion, an air and fuel mixture is ignited and detonated in repeated, controlled explosions inside open-ended tubes resembling exhaust pipes. When detonation moves through the tubes it creates a supersonic shockwave that continually pulses and generates thrust.

Researchers from the 711th HPW determined acoustic exposure limits and provided the hearing protection system. Noise levels in the cockpit of the PDE-driven aircraft reach 130 decibels, compared to about 100 decibels for a typical fighter jet, said AFRL research audiologist John Hall. Without ACCES protection, a PDE pilot would be unable to communicate with crew and would suffer hearing loss after only two flights.

In presenting the hearing protection system to the museum, Mr. Siebold said ACCES technology “allowed the flight to take place and me to retain my hearing.”

Both technologies were developed using off-the-shelf components.  The PDE incorporated an eight-cylinder automotive engine and ACCES leveraged Westone’s commercially available communications equipment used by musicians.

According to Fred Schauer, PDE program team leader, the PDE could be capable of powering future aircraft up to four times the speed of sound.

“This engine offers the capability of static to near-hypersonic flight with good supersonic efficiencies,” he said. “PDEs could make sense for missions that require efficient supersonic cruise and/or boost from low to high speeds.”

John Schutte


August 30, 2008 at 3:16 am

The Battle of Hampton Roads (March 8-9, 1862)

First Battle Between Ironclad Warships

When the American Civil War broke out on April 12, 1861, southern state militias took over federal armories and forts on their territory.
A week into the war, Virginia militia closed in on the Navy Yard at Gosport (today’s Portsmouth) on the southside of the Hampton Roads waterway. Union forces at the Navy Yard hastily destroyed their depots and set fire to the ships in drydock. They evacuated the Yard on April 20.

Building the CSS Virginia

Confederate forces entered the next day. Among the wreckage they found the frigate USS Merrimack. It was damaged, but not beyond repair.
They reconfigured the wooden frigate into an ironclad warship. The top decks were removed and replaced with an iron-covered casemate structure with ten guns. the freeboard was also covered with iron plates. An iron ram was installed at the prow.
The ship was commissioned as the CSS Virginia in February 1862. Captain Franklin Buchanan was appointed her commander.

The USS Monitor

Meanwhile the Union built its own ironclad vessel in New York. The USS Monitor was a unique design with a very low freeboard and a revolving iron turret mounting two 11-inch guns. The ship, built specifically as a response to the Confederate ironclad project, was launched on January 30, 1862.
On March 6 the Monitor departed New York in tow. Her destination: The confluence of the James River and Elizabeth River into Chesapeake Bay, known collectively as Hampton Roads, Virginia. Confederate held Norfolk sat on the southern side of Hampton Roads. The Union held cities of Hampton and Newport News were on the northern side.

Read the entire article at Hampton Roads Military History

August 30, 2008 at 1:38 am

History of Military Gaming

Death Gliders

Death Gliders

Get the “Death Gliders” poster or calendar — exclusively online at The PatriArt Gallery.

Gaming has long been an important tool used by militaries to assist in training, analysis and mission readiness. What began 5,000 years ago as warfare models using colored stones and grid systems on a board has evolved into state-of-the-art computer-simulation systems that allow users to customize their virtual experience based on real-life events.

Military simulation games evolved over time, eventually leading to the Roman legions’ sue of sand tables and miniature replicas representing the battlefield in the 1st century A.D. They were visual tools used to play out strategic scenarios. These devices remain in use today at military academies and schools, but are slowly being replaced by computer simulations.

Early Systems
The greatest advancements in pre-computer war games came in the mid 17th century, said Roger Smith, chief scientist and technology officer for the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation. Germany’s Christopher Weikmann designed “Konigspiel,” “the King’s Game,” one of the earliest warfare board games, which allowed a player to visualize the movement and actions of his forces on a playing board.

“That was the beginning of the most important changes. Before that everything was literal, a direct representation of the battlefield with no way of abstractly representing behaviors,” Smith said. When the Germans started using paper board games, they were able to estimate battlefield actions using probability and other forms of mathematics.

In 1811, another German, Baron von Reisswitz, developed “Kriegsspiele,” a more detailed board game using contoured terrain and porcelain soldiers, which introduced the concept of a starting scenario with a stated military objective, Smith said. The Germans were “creating the foundations of mathematically driven warfare that would be programmed on computers in the 1950s.”

Inventors further refined the board war game in the 1950s with hexagonal overlays to track movement and engagement, and a combat-results table for calculating attrition and movement, which incorporated the impact of terrain on combat activities, Smith said.

“The RAND Corporation was working on a system to present theater-level warfare in a form that would allow more mathematically accurate actions than those found on sand tables and board games of earlier centuries,” he said.

At the same time, Charles Roberts, an entrepreneur awaiting his Army commission, developed a similar game. Both systems also introduced combat-results tables and the use of dice to add random events and outcomes to the “battle.”

Roberts established Avalon Hill, a commercial entertainment company, in 1958, and used the military planning and training tools to popularize war-gaming as a form of entertainment. “Thus was born the lasting tension between games as serious military tools and games as a form of entertainment,” Smith said.

Casual players wanted a user-friendly game, but the military needed accuracy and began using computing machines to assist with more involved calculations. Technological advances made these devices more accessible, Smith said, and incorporated more detailed mathematics and logic into game play. The forms of the games themselves though, remained relatively unchanged.

Computers Arrive
The Army Operations Research Office at Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University developed the first truly computerized war games. Beginning with “Air Defense Simulation” in 1948 and the “Carmonette” series of simulations in 1953, these systems eliminated much of the manual work of moving pieces, rolling dice, looking up results in a table and calculating final results, Smith said.

“The players could focus on the tactical movements and leave the complexity of manipulation to the computer,” he said. Game size was expanded, limited only by the computer’s capabilities.

As developers’ understanding of the power of the computer grew, they were able to “incorporate mathematic and logical algorithms that were far beyond what could be managed with a human-driven paper game,” Smith said. The 1970s saw the first iterations of today’s networked, multiplayer simulations. Games like the McClintic Theater Model at the Army War College, not only improved mathematical models of warfare, they incorporated attractive system graphics.

In today’s personal-gaming age, Smith said entertainment games and technologies are being modified and used in the military domain, and traditional games have been re-tooled for casual gamers and sold for entertainment.

“We are much more comfortable with using entertainment technologies for military training today,” Smith said. Military-training simulations like JANUS and SIMNET have been incorporated into simpler commercial games. “America’s Army,” a modification of Unreal Tournament;” DARWARS Ambush,” and adaptation of “Operation Flashpoint;” and X-Box’s “Full Spectrum Warrior” have all been used by the military.

“Marine Doom” was one of the earliest examples of modifying games for training purposes, Smith added.

The game was an early modification of idSoftware’s “Doom II.” Marine Lt. Scott Barnett, the project officer, and Marine Sgt. Dan Snyder, a designer and modeler, tweaked the commercial off-the-shelf product in the mid-1990s to enhance teamwork, coordination and decision-making training.
“It was primitive, but they showed the big idea of using games for training,” Smith said. At the time, the Army’s leaders did not realize the full potential of COTS games and their value to military training, so research into its uses was limited.

“As games have become more sophisticated, and as the military has come to understand them better, we have been able to identify better means of leveraging these technologies for serious purposes,” Smith said. “We have come a long way in how we use games. Every year somebody takes it a stop further.”

Researchers and developers today are faced with the challenge of creating game-based software that can be deployed around the globe as the demand for them increases, Smith said. Rather than waiting for official products to reach them, “Soldiers are putting these COTS games into their own hands and modifying them for their specific needs.”

One of the few broadly deliverable products in use today, “DARWARS Ambush” has been deployed to Soldiers in the States and abroad, and has become a valuable tool for both users and developers.

“We bring the system out to the field and create a gaming lab with a networking center,” Smith said. A tech provides a series of scenarios to the Soldiers and teaches them how the tools work and how to change those scenarios to the extent the system will allow.

“The Soldiers just dive in and start ‘playing’ the scenarios,” Smith said. “Then they start adapting those scenarios to make them more realistic. They are not only learning the given scenarios, but teaching themselves to replicate real-life experiences to re-live and recreate what they’ve seen on their own missions.”

The users are able to take another look at specific events from a stress-free environment and provide developers with valuable input about the effectiveness of the training.

Smith said that modern tools for training have spread beyond combat to medical and cultural scenarios. The military has also expanded its research to varied uses of artificial intelligence.

Through a sustained partnership among researchers, developers and users, Smith said the Army continues to look at the technology within games, rather than the games themselves, as a means of creating alternatives for many of the established tools for training.

“There is more of an acceptance of these technologies every year,” Smith said. “We are better able to answer the questions that have surrounded military simulations, and we are able to more accurately translate military models into accurate simulations.”

Carrie McLeroy

August 29, 2008 at 3:42 am 2 comments

Ship’s History: USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)

USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)

USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)

USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) is available as a poster, as a framed print, and as a set of greeting cards. Visit The PatriArt Gallery.

USS KEARSARGE (LHD 3) is the fourth ship in the history of the U.S. Navy named for Kearsarge Mountain in New Hampshire.  Previous ships named KEARSARGE include a Civil War-era sloop of war famous for defeating CSS ALABAMA; a turn-of-the-century battleship that sailed as part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet;” and an aircraft carrier, known internationally for its part in the Project Mercury space program.  KEARSARGE is only one of two United States ship names mandated by Congress to be used more than once.

USS KEARSARGE is the third ship of the Wasp class multipurpose amphibious assault ships.  Her primary mission is the embarkation, deployment, landing and support of a Marine landing force.

USS KEARSARGE and her sister ships are the first ships specifically designed to accommodate Air Cushion Landing Craft (LCAC) for fast troop movement over the beach and Harrier II (AV-8B) V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing) jets, which provide close-in air support for the assault force.

Launched on March 26, 1992, she was christened KEARSARGE on Saturday, May 16, 1992, at Ingalls Shipbuilding by Mrs. Alma Powell, wife of General Colin L. Powell, USA former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.  USS KEARSARGE joined the fleet October 16, 1993 during commissioning ceremonies in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is home ported in Norfolk, Virginia.

KEARSARGE departed for her maiden deployment on March 22, 1995.  KEARSARGE served as the primary platform for the rescue of Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady after he was shot down over Bosnia.

After the deployment, KEARSARGE served as the primary Navy unit participating in the 1995 New York City Veteran’s Day activities, which marked our nation’s final tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II.

KEARSARGE began her second deployment on April 15, 1997.  She relieved USS Nassau (LHA 4) on station off the coast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in support of Operation Guardian Retrieval on May 2, 1997.  KEARSARGE was later directed to Freetown, Sierra Leone to conduct Noncombatant Evacuation Operations in support of Operation Noble Obelisk.  On May 31, she began evacuating American citizens and foreign nationals from Sierra Leone.  During the four-day operation, KEARSARGE evacuated more than 2,500 Americans and foreign nationals from more than 40 countries.

On April 17, 1999, KEARSARGE embarked on its third deployment.  Performing a turnover with the NASSAU ARG while underway, KEARSARGE made best speed to the Adriatic Sea where she performed various operations off the coast of Kosovo, including Operation Noble Anvil/Allied Force and establishment of Camp Hope in Fier, Albania.  On June 7, Operation Joint Guardian began.  The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable (SOC), was offloaded June 10 across Litokhoron Beach, Greece, for movement to Skopje, Macedonia.  These U.S. Marines were the first peacekeeping force to enter Kosovo.  Immediately following, KEARSARGE was ordered to Izmit, Turkey to provide support after the nation experienced a devastating earthquake that killed 12,000 people.

On April 25, 2001, KEARSARGE began its fourth deployment, where the ship hosted the annual USO Gala in Naples, Italy, participated in several large amphibious operations (Trident D’Or, Alexander the Great and Albanian PHIBLIEX), and provided support to the President of the United States during the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy.  On September 11, 2001, KEARSARGE was underway in the Mediterranean Sea as the World Trade Centers and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists.  During this deployment, KEARSARGE visited 12 ports in seven different countries.  KEARSARGE returned home on October 15, 2001.

On January 8, 2002, KEARSARGE entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a four-month Planned Maintenance Availability that ended on April 25th that year.  In July, KEARSARGE made a port visit to Boston to participate in the annual Harborfest celebration over the 4th of July.  On October 10th, KEARSARGE participated in a unique exercise in the Gulf of Mexico to prove a new capability of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship – to support mine sweeping capabilities.

On January 12, 2003, with only 72 hours notice, KEARSARGE was deployed, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  It was the ship’s fifth deployment.  Serving as the Flagship for Rear Admiral Nowakowski, Commander, Amphibious Task Force East, and Brigadier General Richard Natonski, Commanding General Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2D MEB) and Landing Force East, KEARSARGE carried more than 1,700 Marines from the 2D MEB to the Northern Arabian Gulf.  KEARSARGE later became the Flagship for Commodore Gregg Jackson, Commander Amphibious Squadron Eight.

On February 14th, KEARSARGE began off-loading the 2D MEB at Kuwait Naval Base.  They joined up with Marines from the 1 MEB to become Task Force Tarawa.  On March 20th hostilities commenced, the name of the engagement was changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Task Force Tarawa crossed in Iraq and went to war.  KEARSARGE remained off the coast of Iraq flying combat re-supply missions employing the CH-53E helicopters attached to the Condors of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron Four Sixty-Four (HMH 464).

On the way home from that history combat deployment, KEARSARGE also provided support to the President of the United States during his visits to Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan during his summits with Arab leaders.  Additionally, KEARSARGE was diverted from its homecoming track to the western coast of Africa to support Operation Shinning Express.  KEARSARGE returned home on June 30, 2003.

In June 2004, following a four-month shipyard avalability, KEARSARGE surge deployed to the Arabian Gulf to transport elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  KEARSARGE returned home in August 2004.

KEARSARGE embarked on its seventh deployment on March 25, 2005 as the flagship for the KEARSARGE Expeditionary Strike Group, consisting of KEARSARGE, the guided missile cruiser USS NORMANDY (CG 60), the amphibious transport ship USS PONCE (LPD 15), the guided missile destroyer USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66), the guided missile frigate USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59), the attack submarine USS SCRANTON (SSN 756) and the dock landing ship USS ASHLAND (LSD 48), and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

USS KEARSARGE has been awarded the Golden Anchor for Retention Excellence, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Service Award, the CNO Environmental Safety Award, the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award, Department of Energy / Department of the Navy Energy Efficient Awards, the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award and the Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic Safety Award.

Additionally, KEARSARGE has qualified for the following medals and unit awards:  Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards), Battle Efficiency “E” Award (five awards), National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Kosovo campaign Medal (with bronze star), Armed Forces Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (five awards), the NATO Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon

August 26, 2008 at 2:37 am

Ship’s History: USS Kearsarge (CV-33)

USS Kearsarge, a 27,100-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier, was built at the New York Navy Yard. She was commissioned in March 1946 and spent her first year of service in training operations in the western Atlantic and Caribbean.

During the later 1940s, Kearsarge made two trips to Europe, the first a summer 1947 midshipmen training cruise and the second a mid-1948 deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. In early 1950, the carrier was transferred to the west coast, where she decommissioned in June for extensive modernization work.

Recommissioned in February 1952, Kearsarge now had a stronger flight deck, new island and many other changes to her appearance and capabilities. She made a Korean War combat cruise in September 1952 – February 1953, during which time she was reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier and redesignated CVA-33.

From mid-1953 to 1958, Kearsarge had regular tours of duty with the Seventh Fleet in the Far East. Her 1955 deployment included supporting the Nationalist Chinese evacuation of the Tachen Islands. The carrier was again modernized in 1956-57, receiving an angled flight deck and enclosed “hurricane” bow to better equip her to operate high-performance aircraft. Kearsarge was assigned a new role in October 1958, becoming an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) support aircraft carrier, with the new designation CVS-33. In that capacity, she operated ASW fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters to protect the fleet against the threat of hostile underwater attack.

Regular Seventh Fleet deployments continued through the late 1950s and the 1960s, including indirect involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.

In 1962 and 1963, Kearsarge carried out a new mission, serving as recovery ship for the orbital flights of astronauts Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper.

Made redundant by the general fleet drawdown of the late 1960s and early 1970s, USS Kearsarge was decommissioned in February 1970. Following three years in the Reserve Fleet, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in May 1973 and sold for scrapping in February 1974.

For photos of the USS Kearsarge (CV-33, CVA-33, CVS-33) visit the Naval Historical Center

August 23, 2008 at 2:47 am

The Welsh and English Longbow

One of the most important weapons of the Middle Ages was the Welsh/English longbow. This weapon was the decisive factor in English victories over French forces during the Hundred Years War.

What is a longbow?

A longbow is any bow which is nearly the size of a man. Bows over 5 feet in length are considered longbows.
The medieval Welsh or English longbow was made from a single piece of strong but flexible Yew wood. It was about 6 feet, 6 inches long, making it at least a foot longer than the average archer of the day.
War arrows for the English longbow weighed up to 3 ounces and were 3 feet long. They had chisel-shaped bodkin arrowheads, which were aerodynamic and allowed increased range. The bodkin’s narrow shape concentrated the arrow’s energy at the point of impact, increasing the ability to punch through armor.

Read the entire article at Hampton Roads Military History

August 22, 2008 at 1:30 am

Ancient Troy Larger Than Previously Believed

German archaeologists have discovered that the site of ancient Troy covered a much larger area than previously thought — 35 hectars (77 acres), not the 27 hectars (59 acres) deduced by earlier excavations.

A few days ago a crew led by Dr. Ernst Pernicka from the Universitaet Tuebingen discovered the continuation of the Bronze Age defensive ditch surrounding the city. They also discovered Bronze Age cobblestones from an ancient road northeast of the previously excavated site.

“We have now proven the existence of a residential area 500 meters outside the castle. This was indeed a very large capital city. It was the center of a small principality which probably encompassed a total area of 200-300 square kilometers,” said Dr. Pernicka.

August 21, 2008 at 3:21 am

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