Daily News
by Douglas Helmer

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

PC Game and Hardware News

WarBirds III: Pacific Theater of Operations Open Beta
Press Release:
WarBirds just got a new makeover! WarBirds, Pacific Theater of Operations is an upcoming major update to the award winning WarBirds III family of products. New terrain, new airplanes, new flight models, new strategy, and new fun all will be had with this exciting new version! The remarkable gameplay featured in WarBirds PTO is incomparable to any previous versions of WarBirds!

The WarBirds, PTO takes the action to the Southern Philippines. The new water and island terrain is generated from 100-meter resolution satellite data, which allows stunning depictions of actual topography from the Pacific region. On February 19, 2003 we will host an open beta for players to evaluate the new terrain, with the final release on March 19.

Warbirds III: PTO Open Beta February 19th, 2003

WarBirds, PTO includes new Japanese fighter/bombers the B5N2 Kate, the D3A Val, and the G4M1 Betty as well as awesome new 3D cockpits from numerous German and US fighter/bombers. If that’s not enough to get the excitement running through your veins, you can opt to roll in the world famous M4A3 Sherman or Russian T-34 tanks to capture airfields in exciting tank battles!

Additionally, to gratify the high demands from today’s more sophisticated gamers for a higher-level of immersion in their online game play, we have added a new strategic supply model. This new supply model provides the opportunity for players to experience more realistic battle conditions and allows them to employ more historical strategies, operations, and tactics.

Website: Warbirds
Operation Flashpoint Updates (10 items)
We are adding coverage of the Operation Flashpoint mods today. Here's are some headlines we found today at OpFlashpoint.org, an excellent community resource site.

  • Australian Defence Forces MOD weapons addons.
  • Operation Code Blue MOD: Screenshots
  • ADF MOD: News
  • Starship Troopers MOD
  • Operation Flashpoint: BMD3 Addon
  • Falkland Wars MOD: HMS Hermes Addon
  • Invasion 1944 MOD: .30 cal Addon
  • Operation Flashpoint: Jetpack Addon
  • WWII Engineer Corps MOD: British 1st Paras Screenshots
  • Invasion 1944 MOD: M1 Carbine Addon

For full details on the above items, visit the OpFlashpoint.org site.

Website: OpFlashpoint.org
15 Computer Cases Compared
Tom's Hardware Guide has reviewed 15 of the top computer cases on the market today. This is a great article for those of you considering building your own rig.

Webpage: Tom's Hardware Guide Case Review
Fighter Aircraft Repaints (3 items)
Fly II: P-51D Mustang Y - R7 ( R - 7 Y) France (AVSIM)
This repaint gives an impression of the R-7Y owned and flown by the late Yves Duval. Two months after Yves Duval died in a crash with his Fouga Magister , the Yankee Delta R-7Y crashed too. The original P51D "Black Cat" from the ROTW-Team is needed. By J. Sabatier, L.Claudet and TJ ( ROTW ) / Repaint by Leen de Jager.

P-51D Mustang by J. Sabatier

FS2002: Grumman F-14B Tomcat (AVSIM & FSPlanet)
Grumman F-14B Tomcat VF-103 "Jolly Rogers" Victory 00. Accurate Gmax model with full moving parts and photoreal textures. 2D panel included. Original 3D Gmax model by Jeff Dobbing. Gauges and effects found on Internet. Gmax model rework, textures, panel, etc. by Dino Cattaneo.

F-14 Tomcat by Jeff Dobbing, Dino Cattaneo, et. al.

FS2002: FSDSv2 Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker' (FSPlanet)
With full moving/rotating gear/bays, airbrake, elevons, expandable engine nozzles, opening canopy/nose (showing radar which moves),wing contrails and afterburner effects. Model/textures by Peter Davies. No panel.
BF1942 Updates (7 items)
  • Trench Rats Update (pics)
  • Road to Rome Doubts?
  • Vhavoc New Movie
  • BF1942 Guide For Monte Cassino
  • New Comic
  • Forgotten Hope update
  • DC Road to Rome Patch

For all the details on the above items, visit the official BF1942 website.

Website: PlanetBattlefield.com
Raven Shield Box Art Released
Not sure where this sort of news rates in the ol' excitement scale, but hey, we don't make that kind of judgement; we just report the news :)

Ooooh! Ahhhhh!

Check out the back panel shot at their website.

Website: Raven Shield Box Art
ATI Catalyst 3.1 Drivers Released
Tip o' the hat again to Biohazcentral.com for this news item.

Download: ATI Catalyst 3.1 Drivers
Webpage: Check out ATI's Trade-in Program
Enemy Engaged: Comanche vs Hokum Source Code Released
Found this tidbit at Biohazcentral.com. You can go to the Razorworks site to download the source or you can go to Mad Jeff's Biohazcentral.com site to read the official statement on the source code's release:

Source code! Get yer free source code!

Download: EECH Source from Razorworks
Website: Source Code Release Statement (Biohazcentral.com)
IL-2 Forgotten Battles Video
Cartrix has posted a new IL-2: Forgotten Battles movie!

Download: IL-2: Forgotten Battles Movie [18.5 MB]
3DMark 2003 Released. Get A Free Copy!
Futuremark releases a new version of its PC graphics benchmark with four graphically advanced tech demos.

Download: 3DMark 2003
Command and Conquer: Generals In Stores
Press Release:
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) announced that the highly-anticipated real-time strategy game, Command & Conquer™ Generals ships to stores in North America today, and will be distributed worldwide by February 14. Command & Conquer Generals will be published by EA under the EA GAMES™ brand.

Command & Conquer Generals puts players’ trigger fingers on the pulse of modern warfare as they become a powerful general and control massive armies of cutting-edge military weaponry. Three unique sides will be available, each with customizable high-tech arsenals ready to deliver unprecedented firepower on land or in the skies. Players can annihilate the opposition in the 22-mission single-player campaign or dish out the damage in global multiplayer mayhem.

"The game is stunningly beautiful," said EA President and Chief Operating Officer John Riccitiello. "Command & Conquer Generals mixes fantasy battles and adversaries with contemporary politics and geography. If you've ever enjoyed a real time strategy game, you're going to love Command & Conquer Generals."

The Command & Conquer line of games is one of the most popular franchises in gaming history. To date, the franchise has sold more than 21 million units worldwide on multiple platforms, and the series has landed in several editions of the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling computer strategy game series of all time. Command & Conquer Generals is the first 3D strategy game in the franchise, and was awarded "Best Strategy Game" at E3 2002.

Gamers can order Command & Conquer Generals online at www.eastore.ea.com, by calling toll-free at 877-EA GAMES (877-324-2637), or by visiting their local computer games retailer. If they purchase the game through at a retail outlet, gamers will have a choice of three collectable boxes, each featuring one of the in-game factions.

Website: C&C: Generals
NWS: Warship Combat-WW2 V1.08
NWS: Warship Combat-WW2 V1.08 is now posted. New features include the addition of torpedo
protection systems, several improved graphics, more improvements to the sound effects, and updated
tactical manuevers for close range engagements. Updated players manual and ship data reference
chart are also posted for free download.

Download: Naval Warship Simulations
Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin Patch v1.02
Press Release:
Battlefront.com is thrilled to announce the version 1.02 patch for Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin (“PC Gamer”s Turn Based Strategy Game of the Year). This patch includes 17 new and improved vehicle and gun models, refinements to several commands and further tweaks to the fatigue and morale systems. Added Features include a new "pure armor" Quick Battle force type which will only allow "armor" units to be purchased plus dozens of unit and weapon/armor data updates and bug fixes. The patch is approximately 10 megabytes in size and is available for both Mac and Windows versions. CDV Software Entertainment will be releasing the v1.02 for the European Windows version of CM2 in the next few days, if not sooner. Visit www.battlefront.com for more details and the complete patch readme file!

Background Information:
Battlefront.com is an independent internet-based publisher of superior war and strategy games, among them the award-winning 3D tactical WWII combat simulation Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord, to which Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin is the sequel. Other titles include Airborne Assault- Red Devils over Arnhem and Strategic Command – European Theater, as well as the newest (version 4) installation of the famous TacOps modern combat simulation. Besides computer games, Battlefront.com offers a selection of books, prints and other warfare related articles to one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wargamer fan communities.

Download: CM: Barbarossa to Berlin v1.02 (from 3DGamers)
MOH:AA Spearhead Dedicated Linux Server v2.11 Beta 2
Now you can take advantage of the leaner and meaner Linux OS to host your MOHAA: Spearhead dedicated servers. The install process requires you to first install and patch on a Win32 machine and then copy the files to your Linux server. In addition, there's plenty of strong reminders that this is beta code. Here's a snippet from the docs:

This is BETA quality code.

Run this code at your own risk. It is NOT production quality yet. Do not put it on servers that need extreme uptime. That being said, your feedback is most appreciated. Please get on the mailing list, and submit bugs to Bugzilla. Bugs sent directly to my inbox are deleted without being read. You Have Been Warned.

This binary will refuse to run in about 30 days, but there will be updates (and hopefully an official, non-expiring version) before then.

For the rest of this doc and the download, visit 3DGamers.

Download: MOHAA Linux Server (from 3DGamers)

Defense & Aerospace News

VISTA F-16 Will Test Airborne Safety System
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School here, with the support from neighboring NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, is breaking new ground with an innovative research project intended to help prevent midair collisions.

Flight testing of the Automatic Air Collision Avoidance System, known as Auto ACAS, is scheduled to take off in March. Testing could prove the potential of this revolutionary concept; its ability to see and avoid aircraft on an airborne collision course.

This project is designed as a four-session technology evaluation planned to last through July. Session 1, in the March timeframe, is a systems check -- a chance to demonstrate that the Auto ACAS can be properly incorporated into an aircraft and work with all other systems. Session II, proposed for May, is the initial data-collection phase using the Variable-stability, In-flight Simulation and Test Aircraft F-16 to fly against a virtual target.

The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School's Variable-stability, In-flight Simulation and Test Aircraft F-16 flies over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The VISTA is key to the school's flight testing of the Automatic Air Collision Avoidance System, known as Auto ACAS, scheduled to begin in March. The test program is aiming to prove the system's ability to see and avoid aircraft on an airborne collision course.

Session III, projected for June, is a second systems check using a production F-16 Fighting Falcon from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Session IV, anticipated for July, is the end result -- an opportunity to test Auto ACAS in scenarios using both the VISTA and a production F-16.

Throughout these four sessions, TPS officials will conduct approximately 30 missions, each one engineered to test the Auto ACAS design.

Auto ACAS is an algorithm -- a set of instructions and computer code, explained Maj. Jim Less, TPS Auto ACAS project pilot. Developed by Boeing and Saab, the algorithm decides when an avoidance maneuver is required; it predicts the recovery flight path, evaluates other aircraft flight paths and determines the best escape maneuver. The auto pilot executes the avoidance maneuver based on the aircraft's limits and disengages as soon as the flight paths deconflict.

"Basically, the algorithm is doing the 'see and avoid'," said Mark Skoog, NASA Dryden Auto ACAS technical adviser and flight test director.

To safely test this capability without forcing two aircraft to enact a midair collision, the ACAS team will primarily use simulators.

"We'll have a computer on the ground running a simulation program," said Less. "This program will be connected to a data link, and the information will be sent up to the aircraft. The pilot will see a virtual airplane in his path through a helmet-mounted sight."

According to Skoog, the aircraft will think the simulated plane is real and try to avoid it.

"In other words, this simulation program will allow us to test Auto ACAS without putting people or aircraft in danger," said Skoog.

The simulation program will not only be used for safety reasons, but will also aid in test efficiency.

"It is easier to set up a virtual target in the exact right place at the exact right time, than it is to coordinate the positions of two separate aircraft," said Jeff Chen, TPS Auto ACAS project engineer. "Using a virtual plane, we will be able to accomplish more runs and collect more data points."

Auto ACAS is a big undertaking for the test pilot school, said Less.

"TPS doesn't usually tackle projects of this nature," he said. "We are ultimately involved because the school owns a one-of-a-kind F-16 reserved for curriculum sorties and projects."

The VISTA F-16 has a number of extra computers with the ability to change the aircraft's flying qualities, as well as the displays and electronics, explained Less. Also, Auto ACAS can be directly loaded from a computer into the VISTA Simulation System. These unique characteristics make this aircraft critical to the ACAS program.

With the VISTA's ability to maneuver like a variety of aircraft, and with the generic design of the ACAS algorithm, this program is getting a lot of attention from the unmanned aerial vehicle community, he said.

"At some point during testing, we are going to the fly the VISTA as a UAV in order to demonstrate Auto ACAS's versatility -- a quality many are interested in," said Less.

The Swedish government has expressed its interest by coming on board as an equal partner in the effort.

"At $14 million, the Swedes are funding half the program, while the Air Force Research Lab is sponsoring the U.S. portion," said Less.

The Swedish Government's involvement stems from an earlier cooperative venture on the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration of the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System.

"When the Auto GCAS program concluded in 1999, the Swedes wanted to embark on another joint project," said Skoog. "So we started looking into Auto ACAS. The first official contract and design was produced ... in October 2000."

In the end, this product will be both Swedish and U.S. Air Force property.

"It is government-owned software, and will be available for use by any government agency," explained Skoog.

This does not mean TPS testing will result in the actual production of the system.

"We are out to prove an idea, prove that Auto ACAS works," said Less. "This is the very beginning -- baby steps. If we can help prevent midair collisions, we can eliminate a lot of fatalities and loss of aircraft."

Unfortunately, midair collisions do occur.

"The U.S. military probably has five or six per year," Less added, "and we'd like to bring those numbers down. Although there's a lot more work to be done, saving lives is well worth the effort and the cost."
Navy's Wave-Piercing Catamaran Expands Role
ROTA, Spain (NNS)—The Joint Venture High Speed Vessel – Experimental One (HSV-X1) made a brief stop in Rota Feb. 4 while underway in support of the global war on terrorism.

Up until this deployment, the 315-foot wave-piercing catamaran ferry had only been used in a testing capacity by various components of the U.S. military to deliver troops and equipment.

“In early January, we received deployment orders,” said Capt. Phil Beierl, commanding officer, “and Joint Venture left Norfolk (Va.) approximately one week ago in execution of those orders. While experimentation continues, we now have an operational role, as well.”

Leased for two years to the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armament command in October 2001, Joint Venture has undergone extensive technical and structural modifications to meet the military’s requirements, including the installation of a helicopter pad suitable for large helicopters such as the SH-60 Seahawk and the CH-46 Sea Knight.

The Navy's "Joint Venture" catamaran has undergone extensive technical and structural modification to meet the military’s requirements. Modifications include the installation of a helicopter pad suitable for large helicopters such as the SH-60 “Seahawk’ and the CH-46 “Sea Knight.” (U.S. Navy photo by J. Overton).

Additionally, the craft was upgraded and fitted with a two-part hydraulically-operated vehicle ramp for rapid loading and discharging of vehicles from the stern or alongside.

Joint Venture is capable of carrying 363 persons, military vehicles and equipment more than 1,110 nautical miles at a speed greater than 35 knots. Without a heavy load, the ferry can travel 48 knots, or 50 miles per hour. Joint Venture’s shallow 12-foot draft also allows the ship to be effective in shallow waters.

While the vessel has so far been crewed with a combination of U.S. Army and Navy personnel, each branch will have their own catamaran, according to Beierl.

“The Navy has contracted with Incat for HSV-X2, which is now being built,” he explained, “and the Army has TSV (Theater Support Vessel)-1X Spearhead.”

Those vessels will be configured to meet the specifications required by each of the services.

“The Navy has had Joint Venture for almost 18 months, and we’ve experimented with manning, equipment and moving troops rapidly,” Beierl said. “However, there’s always work that can be done to make improvements. The crew is just really pleased to see this experiment go well and are proud of the work they’ve done to show that this (vessel) is a viable platform.”
Fire Scout UAV Completes Four-Hour Flight
SAN DIEGO—Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector continued its successful envelope expansion of the U.S. Navy Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned system with a four-hour mission Feb. 8, the longest flight test to date. Northrop Grumman now has conducted more than 35 flights in the ongoing test demonstrations since May 2002.

The latest mission demonstrated fully autonomous operations from engine start through takeoff, waypoint navigation, approach and landing, followed by engine shutdown. Flights are conducted at the Webster Field annex of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

During the mission, which was operated from the Navy ground control station, the tactical control datalink was used to uplink payload command and control and to downlink imagery. The ARC-210 datalink was used for air vehicle command and control. The ability of the operator to redirect the air vehicle in flight also was demonstrated as planned. Throughout the mission, the Fire Scout air vehicle successfully demonstrated three loiter patterns, 20 loiters and 60 waypoints under autonomous navigation.

Firescout UAV

The Fire Scout payload, supplied by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, Baltimore, Md., operated throughout the mission. The payload consists of electro-optical and infrared sensors and a laser designator/rangefinder, which provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery and data.

The Fire Scout's communications suite is designed to allow simultaneous voice/data relay much farther than the "line of sight" limits of current systems. This communications relay suite is part of the standard air vehicle configuration, and does not reduce the available capacity for primary mission payloads.

The Fire Scout system is in development and low-rate initial production by Northrop Grumman as a force multiplier for Navy forces at sea and Marine Corps forces ashore. Fire Scout can operate up to 20,000 feet, above deployed Marines and provide the capability to watch for threats within 150 nautical miles of the ground control station. The system can direct Navy and Marine weapons accurately to the target with precise target location coordinates or the laser designator.
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