Friday, December 27, 2013

DoD Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2013

The FAA isn't the only one "roadmapping". The US Department of Defense recently released a road map for unmanned systems.
Strategy and budget realities are two aspects of the Defense Department’s new Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap, released today. The report to Congress is an attempt to chart how unmanned systems fit into the defense of the nation. “The 2013 Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap articulates a vision and strategy for the continued development, production, test, training, operation and sustainment of unmanned systems technology across DOD,” said Dyke Weatherington, the director of the unmanned warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance office at the Pentagon. “This road map establishes a technological vision for the next 25 years and outlines the actions and technologies for DOD and industry to pursue to intelligently and affordably align with this vision,” he continued.

DOD Looks 25 Years Ahead in Unmanned Vehicle Roadmap

The funding profile is interesting. The roadmap mentions a reduction in funding for unmanned systems over the next five years. One of the results in Ehrhard's study of UAV development is that funding for these systems tends to dip in the interwar periods relative to manned systems.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

EELV Competition Legislation

The NDAA is being done a bit differently this year.
This legislation is substantially based on two bills: (1) HR. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY14 which passed the House on June 14, 2013 by a vote of 315-108; and (2) S.1197, a product of the Senate Armed Services Committee which passed out of committee on the same day by a vote of 23-3.

Because passing this legislation before the end of the calendar year is vital, these two products were merged through a series of negotiations at all levels of the House and Senate. Negotiators also considered, and in many cases included, a number of proposals offered by members of both parties that were intended for consideration by the full Senate. This legislation represents a broad bi-partisan consensus about America’s national security goals, resources, and policies.
The text of the "pre-conferenced" bill is available on the House Armed Services Committee site.

One of the interesting portions is Section 145: Competition for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Providers.
The Secretary of the Air Force shall develop a plan to implement the new acquisition strategy for the evolved expendable launch vehicle program described in the acquisition decision memorandum dated November 27, 2012.
The acquisition decision memorandum mentioned in the law is described in this article. The plan is supposed to include:
  • proposed cost, schedule and performance
  • mission assurance activities
  • manner in which the contractor will operate under the Federal Acquisition Regulations
  • the effect of other contracts in which the contractor is entered into with the Federal Government, including the evolved expendable launch vehicle launch capability contract, the space station commercial resupply services contracts, and other relevant contracts regarding national security space and strategic programs
That last portion is most interesting to me. What are the effects of the CRS contract, and the infrastructure subsidy contract on competition for EELV-class launches?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GE Jet Engine Bracket Challenge Winners

Topologically Optimized Bracket by KMWE + TU Delft
The winners for the GrabCAD GE Bracket Design challenge have been manufactured and tested. See all the pictures here. The team I mentioned previously that was using topology optimization went ahead and manufactured their bracket themselves. What a great demonstration of metal additive manufacturing (3d printing) and topology optimization. I hope the GrabCAD folks get the promised detailed feedback for all the entries up soon.