Women Will Be Assigned to Subs if Congress Does Not Object


Women are a big step closer to serving on U.S. Navy submarines. ABC News has learned that the Navy has decided to lift the ban on female submarine crew members. Subs are one of the last places in the military from which women are excluded.

The only potential roadblock remaining is Congress. A 30-day window for congressional comment began Monday.

A Defense Department official tells ABC News that the civilian Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, support lifting the ban. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a letter last Friday notifying Congress of the Navy’s policy change. The 30-day window for congressional comment began when Gates’ letter was delivered to Capitol Hill.

Through a spokesperson, Mabus said he “believes it’s a great idea and the right thing to do. He fully supports the assignment of women to submarines.”

“The Secretary supports the Navy decision,” said Geoff Morrell, Gates’ spokesman.

“The Chairman fully supports it,” said Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But even if Congress goes along, it will be at least a year and a half before a woman is able to serve on a U.S. submarine. The Navy plans to phase women onto submarine crews gradually, and the first to serve will be officers. Submarine officers must complete more than a year of “nuclear school” before being assigned to a “boat.”

A Defense Department official tells ABC News the hope is that 12 to 18 ROTC or Naval Academy graduates will enter submarine training.

Women started serving aboard Naval surface warships back in 1993. The Navy said hey have been barred from submarines partly because of the close quarters and limited sleeping areas.

But Naval officials and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said the time has come to “broaden opportunities for women.” The Navy put together the details of how it will move forward.

Since officers are already separated from enlisted personnel on a submarine, Naval officials say they can accommodate female officers first. But no money has been set aside to retrofit sleeping areas or bathrooms for enlisted sailors in any submarines in service. Normal sub deployments can last up to 7 months.

The Navy hopes to start the inclusion of women on its larger submarines, which already have separate quarters. Smaller Virginia class attack subs may be reconfigured later during scheduled maintenance.

The timing of the order comes as graduating seniors at the academy and in ROTC programs have to decide which path they want to take in the Navy. Officials say it is possible that one of the first women to take up the Navy’s offer, if approved by Congress, could be in command of a submarine in 17-18 years.

UAV pilot career field could save $1.5B

Audit suggests eliminating ‘unnecessary’ training
Air Force Times – By Michael Hoffman – Staff writer Mar 2, 2009

Having specifically trained airmen rather than manned aircraft pilots fly unmanned aerial vehicles could save $1.5 billion over the next six years, an Air Force audit found.

The report, released in December by the service’s Audit Agency and obtained in February by Air Force Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, recommends establishing a career field for UAV pilots and developing a cadre of experienced UAV pilots, instructors and weapon system experts.

Auditors estimate the Air Force would save at least $500,000 per pilot if it revamped its training programs. Today, a manned aircraft pilot completes undergraduate and graduate pilot training programs. The service spends more than $2.6 million to train a fighter pilot. Training for an airlift pilot, relatively speaking, is far less — about $600,000.

The audit recommends “eliminating 20 unnecessary weeks of the current undergraduate pilot training program, deleting unnecessary graduate training on other aircraft,” and adding an eight-week UAV undergraduate course and 12 weeks of UAV graduate training. The cost, the report estimates, would be a little more than $135,000 per pilot.

Air Force leaders weren’t surprised by the findings and were rethinking UAV pilot training long before the audit was released, said Col. Scott Forest, deputy chief, operational training division.

In September, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz unveiled plans to create a UAV-specific career field and to train officers with no flying experience to control Predators and Reapers.

“We were implementing the recommendations of this report months before it came out following in the chief’s guidance and his decisions,” Forest said.

Predator and Reaper flight hours have jumped in the past three years. Predator flights nearly doubled last year, according to the Air Force. UAV orbits over Iraq and Afghanistan — or around-the-clock combat air patrols — have gone from 11 in 2007 to 33 in 2009. Plans call for 50 CAPs by 2011.

Air Force leaders had to temporarily assign manned aircraft pilots to handle the higher number of flights. In 2008, 161 fighter, bomber, tanker and cargo pilots flew Predators and Reapers, the two UAV models.

The consequence of shifting the pilots has been a drain on the experience level at manned aircraft squadrons, said Brig. Gen. Lyn D. Sherlock, former director of air operations for operations, plans and requirements at the Pentagon.

“This condition occurred because Air Force officials did not anticipate the rapid growth of UAS programs, increase in worldwide CAP requirements, or the corresponding high demand for UAS [unmanned aerial system] pilots,” according to the report.

UAV assignments have also left 78 percent of non-UAV “ALFA tour” positions empty. An ALFA tour is a temporary midcareer assignment for pilots such as an air liaison, flight instructor or UAV pilot.

The open slots led auditors to conclude that Air Force leaders “did not appropriately consider the adverse impacts of using ALFA tour pilots or the costs the Air Force could avoid by implementing a UAS-specific career path and training program.”

In January, 10 officers with zero flight hours kick-started the Air Force’s effort at creating a career field for UAV pilots.

The officers are the first to go through the training program designed to get officers who didn’t complete undergraduate pilot training into UAV cockpits. They will finish training this fall and receive their UAV wings.

Forest described officials and trainers as “happy with the progress” by the first class.

Another 10 officers will start training this summer and will get their UAV wings in January, at which point the Air Force will decide if it wants to expand the training pipeline, Sherlock said.

“Developing a UAS-specific career path and eliminating unnecessary training will reduce costs by more than $1.5 billion with aviation fuel savings alone accounting for about $180 million — making funds available for other flying training or war effort requirements,” according to the report.

Related reading

UAV graduate school opens

Are enlisted airmen next to pilot UAVs?

Air Force Times: By Michael Hoffman, Andrew Tilghman, Sam LaGrone and Ben Iannotta

The Air Force is desperate for UAV pilots, yet it stands alone among the services in its policy that only officers are allowed to fly large unmanned aerial vehicles.

But next month, in a reversal of policy, 10 nonrated officers — those without aviation training — will begin instruction on flying Predator and Reaper UAVs. could enlisted airmen be next?

Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz left open the possibility immediately after he approved allowing nonrated officers to fly UAVs.

“No options are off the table, … I don’t dismiss that as a possibility,” he said as he walked down from the stage at the Air Force Association convention in Washington, D.C., in September.

Three months later, in early December, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney McKinley said the option for enlisted pilots remains in play and he had “confidence enlisted airmen have the capabilities if tasked.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the demand for UAVs as “insatiable” as ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have come to depend on the full-motion video and close-air support they provide.

To keep up, the Air Force has put UAVs on top of its wish list. Next year, 52 of the 93 aircraft the Air Force will purchase are unmanned.

Likewise, the demand for pilots and sensor operators grows as the Air Force looks to establish 50 Predator and Reaper orbits — round-the-clock combat air patrols — by 2012. That’s an increase of 17 orbits from the Air Force’s current total, which will require 1,100 crews of one pilot and one sensor operator. The service now has 474 crews, according to Air Combat Command.

To meet the surge in demand, the Air Force is ramping up its training pipeline, growing its training capacity from 160 new crews per year to 360 by 2010 with the opening of new training schools at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and March Air Reserve Base, Calif.

Critics, however, say that by restricting the UAV pilot career field to officers, the Air Force has unnecessarily limited its UAV growth potential — and point to the Army, in which enlisted soldiers fly UAVs in the war zones, track insurgents and fire on targets.

Those critics include some in Congress. The more congressional funding that goes to purchasing UAVs and training operators, the more lawmakers and their staffs are studying UAV operations.

One congressional staff member sitting in a defense authorization committee that has studied both Army and Air Force UAV pilot programs said questions arise about why the Air Force can’t have enlisted pilots.

“It’s difficult for us to come right out and say, ‘Air Force: You shall not use officers as pilots; you shall use sergeants,’” he said, asking not to be named. “But it’s perfectly obvious to everybody except senior levels of the Air Force that that’s what they need to do.”

Some critics point to enlisted UAV pilots as a potential cost-saving measure. Rated pilots, proficient after years of expensive training and flying hours, are cycled into UAV slots for two to three years at a minimum. When pilots return to manned aircraft, requalification training comes with a big price tag. It costs roughly $700,000, for example, to send F-15 pilots through a requalification course, according to a Rand Corp. report published in November.

Piloting debate

Chief Master Sgt. Bruce Garcia, 196th Reconnaissance Squadron superintendent, said he is convinced an enlisted airman could fly a UAV.

“The simple answer is yes. I don’t see why they couldn’t fly them,” said Garcia, who oversees the enlisted sensor operators who fly UAV combat missions out of March.

M.L. Cummings, a former F/A-18 pilot and director of the Humans and Automation Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agreed.

“The Army’s enlisted program is a good illustration of that,” said Cummings, who teaches UAV ground control station design.

Air Force leaders argue that comparisons between its programs and the Army’s are misleading because enlisted soldiers fly smaller UAVs that don’t carry the same weapons load as Air Force Reapers and Predators.

But that argument has lost weight as enlisted soldiers are set to fly the Sky Warrior — a UAV that is a foot longer and can carry 325 pounds more than the MQ-1 Predator — in Iraq this summer.

Four Sky Warriors armed with four Hellfire missiles will be deployed this summer and another four will be shipped a year later, said Maj. Jimmie Cummings, an Army spokesman.

The Navy also plans to add new maritime UAVs similar in size to the Predator and Sky Warrior, and Navy officials are considering establishing an enlisted job specialty for UAV pilots.

“This opens up an opportunity to maybe naval flight officers, and there may be opportunities [for] even enlisted personnel to be not only part of the sensor crew but the unmanned operator,” said Capt. Bob Dishman, the project manager for the Navy’s persistent maritime unmanned aircraft systems.

Maj. Hilton Nunez, Army UAV Division team chief, said the debate over whether a UAV pilot should have a commission is moot as long as that pilot receives the right training.

“When you look at this and say, ‘Shouldn’t an officer be doing this?’ then that’s implying that officers are smarter than enlisted folks when in fact it’s just the difference of the training,” he said.

The Army starts training its enlisted UAV pilots straight out of basic training. The pilots spend the first nine weeks in a common core UAV training before moving to training specific to the platform they will fly. Hunter and Shadow training is 12 weeks and Sky Warrior training is 25 weeks. As of October, the Army had trained 3,200 UAV enlisted operators, Maj. Cummings said.

Air Force Predator and Reaper pilots spend two to three months learning to fly UAVs at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., said Lt. Col. Lawrence Spinetta, 11th Reconnaissance Squadron commander.

However, these airmen have spent hours inside these manned aircraft cockpits conducting the “many more tasks and missions” the Air Force expects from its UAV fleet than “the Army expects of its UAV force,” Spinetta wrote in an article in the November/December issue of C4ISR Journal, a sister publication of Air Force Times.

Those aviation skills are especially useful for complex missions. Following a vehicle with a Predator or Reaper requires the pilot to maneuver the aircraft with a joystick instead of setting points on a map for the unmanned aircraft to follow, he said in a phone interview.

“Chasing vehicles through the crowded streets and urban canyons of Sadr City demands more precise control than a generic, fixed, computer-generated orbit can offer,” Spinetta wrote.

He said the Air Force also needs an officer in control when orders come to fire a Hellfire missile at that vehicle, especially at a time when UAVs are becoming more deadly. An MQ-9 Reaper can carry the same weapons load as an F-16, and an officer is needed to oversee the use of that firepower, Spinetta said.

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Hanson, superintendent of the 214th Reconnaissance Group, agreed. “An officer should be the one who carries the responsibility of crashing one of these aircraft or bombing the wrong target.”

However, Nunez argued enlisted troops armed with M-4s carry the burden of lethal force as they walk the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan every day.

But a big piece of the debate, some say, entails how enlisted flyers would be accepted in the Air Force’s culture.

It’s not that “enlisted don’t fly because they don’t have the ability. They don’t fly because pilots run the Air Force and they want to keep it that way,” Hanson said.

Col. Curt Sheldon, assistant to the director of air operations, said the Air Force wants officers to fly because it gives them that experience when they lead flying squadrons.

Having officers fly is ingrained into the Air Force culture, and in the early stages of UAV aviation that is where the service will start, he said.

“It’s not 1909, when it comes to [UAVs] but it’s darn near close,” said Gen. Stephen Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command.

“When you start something new, you start with what we know and we have had officers as pilots from our beginning,” Sheldon said.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Lyn D. Sherlock, director of air operations for operations, plans and requirements at the Pentagon, was one of the key leaders to decide to open UAV piloting to nonrated officers. She said the Air Force has not yet extended the same opportunity to enlisted airmen because of the need for UAV pilots to integrate their mission with a wide range of assets and units, tasks for which the Air Force trains and develops officers.

“We need them to bring their officer expertise to our headquarters and working with our partners in the other services within the joint world,” she said at the AFA convention in September.

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute, said the debate over enlisted or officer falls to the services’ priorities regarding quality versus quantity.

“The main driver of Army operational practice is the desire to get reconnaissance to war fighters in the field as fast as possible,” Thompson said. “The Air Force is more oriented to national- and theater-level users. It’s much more interested in getting the mission right and protecting the airframe than a quick turnaround.”

$60K re-enlistment bonuses

Fat re-enlistment bonuses and the chance to fly combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan make UAVs attractive to Army enlistees, Hanson and Garcia said.

Enlisted soldiers in the rapidly growing career field have benefited both in the pocketbook and when it comes time for promotion.

“Unlike any other career field, this is the fastest-growing with the brightest future because of its growth,” Nunez said.

Army UAV operators promote at a higher rate than the average soldier as the career field continues to expand, Nunez said.

The Army also made UAV operators eligible for a high selective re-enlistment bonus: a lump-sum payment reaching $18,000 depending on rank and length of commitment.

In the Air Force, enlisted imagery analysts are the ones getting rich off the UAV boom. That career field, which includes sensor operators and the intelligence personnel who analyze the feed, is eligible for one of the highest re-enlistment bonuses this year, some reaching more than $60,000.

Nunez said the Army needs to issue the bonuses to keep soldiers in because high-paying jobs as UAV pilots are available if they get out. Civilian salaries for experienced UAV pilots can start as high as $100,000, according to industry officials.

But it’s not only airmen and soldiers who could be making money. The Air Force conserves money any time it can keep a manned aircraft pilot out of a UAV cockpit.

When a pilot returns to the aircraft he was initially trained to fly, that pilot must complete requalification training, which can get expensive. It costs roughly $700,000 to send an F-15 pilot through a requalification course, according to a Rand Corp. report published in November.

Future unmanned systems

As UAV technology advances and these unmanned birds take new shapes, the requirements for those who fly them will change, M.L. Cummings said.

Air Force leaders are already seeing this materialize inside a trailer at Creech, where enlisted airmen fly UAV combat missions every day, Hanson said.

Two officer pilots and four enlisted sensor operators sit in the Multi-Aircraft Control system — referred to as the MAC — which can fly up to four missions at a time.

The officers take over only during emergencies or to fire weapons. The rest of the time the enlisted sensor operators fly the UAV.

Like other ground control stations, the sensor operators’ consoles in the MAC are almost identical to a pilot’s, allowing them to take control of the aircraft. The four sensor operators inside the MAC fly the aircraft inside an airspace outlined by the pilot, said Maj. Matt Martin, ACC Predator and Reaper Operations Branch chief.

Over 80,000 combat hours have been flown using the MAC since March 2006 — with “a lot of tactical success” — but even though it allows the Air Force to fly more missions with fewer pilots, Martin said it’s “not really ideal.”

The pilots can become overburdened by multiple missions, he said, so only the most experienced pilots — those with at least 500 UAV flying hours — are allowed to oversee the MAC.

What the MAC doesn’t do is save on sensor operator manpower, and Spinneta said sensor operators are needed just as desperately as pilots.

But the MAC model in which one pilot flies multiple UAV missions may expand. Air Force leaders plan to tinker with it as part of the Advanced Cockpit program, which officials hope will streamline controls and allow some missions to be more easily transferred from one station to another.

This would allow some pilots to fly the less-taxing portions of multiple missions, such as traveling to a target or signals-intelligence collection missions that entail loitering for hours or even days over a target.

The Army is already a step ahead. Soldiers can use a remote video terminal to direct UAVs flying overhead, said Col. Gregory Gonzalez, Unmanned Aircraft Systems project manager.

Cummings, the MIT professor, declared that the multiple-mission model is the future UAV operations. She is working to advance UAV technologies to a point where she said one human could direct as many as 1,000 missions at the same time.

“The issue isn’t who should be piloting them; the issue is there are different architectures the Air Force should be using,” Cummings said.

The Air Force should simplify its systems and switch from a stick-and-rudder to a point-and click-system that relies more on automation the Army uses, she said.

The research done by the Air Force Research Laboratory has proven that, but Air Force leaders are hesitant to trust the advances made in automation, Cummings said.

“If a pilot can fly so many missions at the same time, then this whole issue of not having enough pilots and the difference between officers and enlisted wouldn’t matter anymore,” she said.

Related reading:

Air Force has big plans for Reapers

480th seeks new ways to get intel to troops

Morphing Wing: A Demonstration of Aero Servo Elastic Distributed Sensing and Control

I. Introduction

Morphing can be defined as the ability to morph, or to change the form or character of, to undergo transformation1. When applied to an aerospace vehicle, it would refer to the capacity of a plane’s wings to change shape during flight and thus providing some aerodynamic advantage. The concept of a morph able wing section is as old as the first airplane ever invented; the Wright Flyer II used a morphing wing as a way to control the aircrafts roll capability.

All aircraft today use some sort of small degree of morphing in the form of control surfaces in order to pitch, roll, and yaw the aircraft. Some examples of these mechanisms are elevators, ailerons, and a rudder. A new definition of morphing has to be developed to the idea being an old one and therefore truly distinguishing an aircraft as morph able. A morphing wing can thus be defined as one which has the ability to either alter its shape in a continuous change along the chord or spar or to change its shape in a drastic manner.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has developed a more technical and fine cut definition of a morphing aircraft as one that had the ability to perform either a 200% change in aspect ratio, a 50% change in wing area, a 5 degree change in wing twist, or a 20 degree change in wing sweep. Morphing wings of this type have taken several forms throughout their history from wings capable of twisting about a spar like the Wright Brother’s aircrafts, variable sweep wings as the F-14 Tomcat, to telescoping wings.

II. Motivation

The traditional idea of an airplane is a set of rigid, fixed wings to provide lift and a combination of ailerons, elevators, and rudder to control roll, pitch, and yaw. Different types of wings have different types of aerodynamic characteristics such as a symmetrical wing has no lift generated when at and angle of attack of zero degrees; a cambered aircraft on the other hand has lift generated at an angle of attack of zero degrees. These traditional aircraft also use one set of configurations out of many to accomplish a given task. During traditional aircraft design, thousands of variables are reduced to a few key design variables, what Raymer refers to as “the basic six”: thrust to weight ratio (T/W), wing loading (W/S), wing thickness-to-chord ratio (t/c), wing taper ratio (l ), wing sweep (L), and wing aspect ratio (b2/S)2. Different sized aircraft correspond to different sets of these quantities, which result in different performance capabilities. For example tanker aircraft for in air refueling are well-suited for long-duration cruising missions but are vastly different from quicker, more maneuverable fighters they help refuel.

The goal of developing a morphing wing is that it will be able to accomplish contradictory missions such as the ones stated above through changes in wing shape. In general, wing shapes that are long and thick are well-suited for slow, gliding flight while short, thin swept wings allow for quick maneuvering and high speeds. The wing sections that manufacturers choose in the final design steps of an aircraft are usually a compromise between conflicting product capability. Changing the wing shape during the middle of a sortie brings the performance of a wing closer to the ideal concept of a wing. Where the ideal wing is a wing that is able to change with each mission it is assigned.

An aircraft with a morph able wing will have better performance for a far wider variety of missions. It will have the versatility to perform contradictory missions with efficiency and have the adaptability to accomplish unforeseen tasks. This will also lead to a lesser need to design one type of aircraft for one type of mission; with the morphing wing you would have the capability of many aircraft in one.

One of the nicest aspects of a morph able wing is its ability to control roll, pitch, and yaw without the need of ailerons, elevators, and rudder. This would lead to an elimination of these parts which in part would lead to potential increase in reliability and a reduction of aircraft maintenance. Another important factor in their elimination is the removal of seams along the wing which would mean a longer duration of laminar flow in the direction of the chord line. This would lead to a greater fuel efficient aircraft which is lower in weight also. For military aircraft the seamless wing would greater increase the stealth of the plane when in comes to radar detection.

Birds are the primary source of motivation for the development of a morphing wing. The versatility and control that even the most complex fixed-wings planes can accomplish pales in comparison to the performance versatility that birds can achieve with a simple move of their wings. Several researchers are studying these wings in hopes to better understand how birds can perform such complex maneuvers. Figure 1 shows some of the many different configurations a bald eagle can achieve.

Fig 1: Bald Eagle in Various Wing Configurations

III. Past Research

As mentioned previously, the morphing wing is an old concept with the Wright brothers actually designing the first aircraft, the Wright Flyer I in 1903, that utilized a morphing concept which they referred to has wing warping. They used a series of pulleys and cables that twisted the wing to change directions. They too were inspired by the flight of birds when the observed a turkey buzzard over the Miami, Ohio river.

Several attempts to develop morphing wings have been made in the U.S. throughout the past few decades. The B-1B bomber4 developed in the mid-1980’s had a blended-wing body that was capable of varying its sweep, providing for wingspans between 78 and 180 feet. The upswept position allowed the B-1B to takeoff in shorter distances and provided increased range, and the swept position allowed it to achieve higher speeds.

The Navy’s F-14 Tomcat also uses variable sweep wings to achieve different wingspans ranging from 38 to 64 feet (a range of 20 to 68 degrees), resulting in a range of aerodynamic characteristics. The variable sweep allows the F-14 to land and takeoff of short runways of aircraft carriers while still allowing it to maintain speed and maneuverability in flight (Figure: 2). The large wing pivot mechanism, however, spans the entire diameter of the fuselage and greatly increases the weight of the plane.

The Mission Adaptive Wing6 was a joint project between the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to apply morphing technology to an F-111 test bed plane. It was one of the first attempts at a smooth, variable-camber wing. The shape of the airfoil’s cross-sections adapted to suit the specific task of the plane. Hydraulic servo-systems were used to change camber on the leading and trailing edges, resulting in a possible leading-edge rotation of +2 to -21 degrees and trailing edge rotation of +4 to -22 degrees. Sliding panels located on the lower edge allowed for chord changes resulting from the variable camber, and the wing was covered with a flexible plexi-glass skin.

One of the more recent morphing wing projects involved the addition of an active aero elastic wing to an F/A 18A Hornet7. Pre-production wings for the Hornet that were deemed too flexible to be used on the actual plane during manufacturing were fitted onto a Hornet. The wings were flexible enough to twist were small amounts at high speeds, resulting in decreased drag and an increase in range.

Fig 2: F-14 Tomcat with Wings Swept Back

IV. Current Research

The recent developments in the field of smart materials have spurred research in the field of morphing wings where those materials can be used to make a 21st century intelligent wing. One of the most prominent morphing projects is NASA’s own Aircraft Morphing Program which is a 6 year program aimed at developing smart devises for implementing in airframe application to enable self-adapting flight resulting in dramatic improvements in aircraft efficiency and affordability.

The program focuses on shape-memory alloys and other smart technology to create shape alterations in the wing. Research on morphing wings is also being conducted at many universities across the United States. Many research groups are developing morphing wing designs at universities such Virginia Polytechnic and State University, University of Florida, and University of Maryland. Several other universities are developing control algorithms for the control of actuation systems on morphing wings.

Read More:

Morphing Wing: A Demonstration of Aero Servo Elastic Distributed Sensing and Control (PDF (8 Pages)

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