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Daily News
by Gail Helmer

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Friday, March 9, 2001

IL-2 Development Update.
Oleg Maddox has announced in this weeks development update the release of new screenshots, and the delay of the beta. This week's screenshots feature the train of He-111z and Me-321. The train can take off (Glider uses jet boosters), fly following waypoints and then make separate landing. If you shot them they also disconnect each other. Check it out at the: Official IL-2 Forum

Destroyer Command Web Site Launched.
Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI) has launched the official website for their 3D naval combat simulation. Destroyer Command is a World War II era U.S. Naval destroyer simulation which gives you command of a destroyer in the US Navy in either the Atlantic or Pacific Theaters. One of the most unique features of Destroyer Command is the ability to play against owners the WWII German U-Boat title, Silent Hunter II , via Internet or LAN. This is a first in computer gaming, allowing players of two different products to compete against each other on the same "virtual battlefield". Destroyer Command also features cooperative and head-to-head multiplayer options with other Destroyer Command players. Destroyer Command is developed by Ultimation Inc. and has a release date of Spring 2001. The Destroyer Command website features a short history of destroyers, vessel descriptions, game features, and screenshots. Destroyer Command

Commandos 2: Check Out The New Website.
Commandos 2 is a tactical action/strategy game set against the backdrop of World War II. Take control of an elite group of gritty soldiers who must venture deep into enemy territory and utilize their unique and combined abilities to complete a series of mission-based objectives. Go covert into new environments based on actual WWII locations: the heart of the Third Reich, a Northern European submarine installation, a sea-based aircraft carrier, and the headquarters of the Japanese army. Commandos2

Combat Command 2 Patch v1.01 Released.
Shrapnel Games announced today that the v1.01 patch for Combat Command 2: Danger Forward has been released. Combat Command 2: Danger Forward recieved a COMBATSIM.COM Top Pick Award, to read the review Click Here. The patch is available for download at: Shrapnel Games

The patch resolves the following issues:

  • 1) Bug Fix: Overwhelming Decisive Victories are now being reported correctly.
  • 2) Bug Fix: PBEM Controls are now presented when choosing Load Other Scenario.
  • 3) Bug Fix: PBEM and Hotseat games no longer hang during Withdraw Phase.
  • 4) Bug Fix: The computer no longer cheats when handling phases during PBEM and Hotseat games.
Target Korea In-Game Video Released.
Today, Targetware released the second in a series of un-retouched in-game video movies, shot from its upcoming release of Target Korea. It was produced and directed by Keith 'Wicked' Harrison with original music score by Mike 'Mach-1' Smith and Rick Calderone. Intro Animation and GFX were provided by David 'Datter' Titus. The clip is about 1 1/2 minutes and shows close-ups of both the F86f-30 Sabre and Mig 15bis engaged in aerial combat high over the Korean peninsula. It can be downloaded in Real Media, Quicktime and Zip formats from the Movies section of the Targetware home page Targetware

About Targetware:
The Targetware engine blends an exceptionally secure and unique development architecture together with direct 'hands-on' community participation, in order to create a 250+ player on-line environment, which essentially has been designed by the customer base itself. With an open architecture approach to graphics, flight models, terrains and even servers, Targetware combines extensibility and customization with a high-fidelity flight simulator, that insures that everyone is playing by the same rules. Targetware is the 'branding' identifier for the engine and the series of products that are being built under it. For example, the first of the series will be titled Target Korea and will feature the Mig 15bis versus the F86f-30 Sabre. Target Korea is currently undergoing closed beta testing and is expected to be simultaneously available in open beta for both Windows and Macintosh systems within 60 days.

Military News
JSF X-32B Completes Maximum-Thrust Stovl Engine Runs
Boeing yesterday completed maximum-thrust engine runs in the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) mode on its Joint Strike Fighter X-32B concept demonstrator, achieving a major milestone in preparation for first flight. Boeing lead STOVL test pilot Dennis O'Donoghue took the Pratt & Whitney F119-614 engine to maximum thrust over the Boeing engine run pit in Palmdale. During the engine runs, the test team, including Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, repeatedly redirectied engine thrust from the aircraft's cruise nozzle to the lift nozzles and back again. The tests confirmed lift systems operations and verified system integrity.

"The successful tests demonstrated the ease in conversion between conventional and STOVL flight modes - a key advantage of the direct-lift configuration," said Katy Fleming, Boeing JSF system test director. "This was another important step in proving the low-risk aspect of our concept as we move toward the start of X-32B flight testing. "Additionally, we demonstrated lift nozzle vectoring at high power, highlighting the operational flexibility of direct-lift."

To perform STOVL flight, the system closes the rear exhaust nozzle and redirects engine thrust downward through lift nozzles. For conventional flight the lift nozzles are closed and thrust flows rearward through the two-dimensional thrust-vectoring cruise nozzle - the same as in the X-32A -to propel the aircraft forward and to supersonic speeds. Afterburner is not used in STOVL flight. The capability to quickly vector the lift nozzles at high power settings will enable the JSF to make rapid transitions to and from wingborne flight and hover. In breaking with the old way of doing business, Boeing will demonstrate X-32B vertical lift with a transition to hover from wingborne flight, rather than the old method of progressing from tethered hovers to a free-air hover.

Boeing plans to demonstrate transitions during X-32B flight test, before performing vertical landings. "We have a high degree of confidence in our ability to hover and execute vertical landings based on modeling data and simulations, as well as results from engine runs on the test stand," Fleming said. The X-32B will demonstrate the company's direct-lift approach to the STOVL requirements for the U.S. Marine Corps and the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Previous X-32B STOVL milestones include:
  • Structural mode interaction testing completed Dec. 10. Piloted simulations and structural mode testing confirmed the safety and pilot-friendly nature of the company's third-generation STOVL concept.
  • Low- and medium-speed taxi tests completed Jan. 10.
  • Accelerated mission testing of the X-32B qualification engine completed Jan. 15. The engine and its components were put through two full profiles of what the X-32B will do in flight test. All propulsion system components operated as predicted.
"The attitude control system and flight control laws used to control the X-32B in STOVL hover and vertical landing has proven to be robust and ready for flight," said Mike Heinz, Boeing vice president and JSF deputy program manager. Boeing has 30 years of experience with direct lift - the only combat-proven approach to STOVL flight. The company is leveraging that experience into a new design that incorporates significant improvements to ensure the services receive a true "third-generation" low-risk STOVL solution that is more capable, reliable, affordable and easier to fly than STOVL aircraft operating today.

In more than 1,300 trials on the STOVL engine test stand, transition times between conventional and vertical thrust and back again have been accomplished consistently in one to three seconds. This rapid and direct transition capability is critically important for unrestricted STOVL operations and aircraft safety. Underscoring the commonality of its JSF design, Boeing used its X-32A to demonstrate aircraft-carrier and conventional-takeoff-and-landing handling qualities. The Boeing X-32A completed its flight-test program Feb. 3 after 66 flights and 50.4 flight hours with six different pilots in the cockpit.(Boeing Photo)

AMRAAM Key Feature In Fighter Market.
According to recent research by Forecast International/DMS the availability of the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM is playing a key role in United States' efforts to win fighter aircraft export contracts. In Europe, South America and Asia, the AMRAAM is tipping the balance in favour of the US entries in various ongoing fighter procurement competitions. "The AMRAAM is a highly sought after missile and the standard by which all other medium-range AAMs are measured," said Larry Dickerson, Missile Analyst for Forecast International/DMS. "Countries interested in US fighter aircraft have repeatedly said that without the AMRAAM they were not interested."

The Chilean Air Force, for example, plans to purchase 10 to 12 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters, but only if the United States provides the AMRAAM. "Chile cannot accept restrictions and limitations," Aviation Subsecretary Nelson Haddad told reporters. "If during the course of negotiations the air force's needs are not satisfied, then unfortunately a final contract will not be signed.''

Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear said Chile could go shopping elsewhere for fighters if the United States refused to provide the AMRAAMs. "If all the requirements are not met, there are other alternatives, other possibilities of other corporations that have expressed their interest in selling planes to Chile," Alvear told Reuters.

The United States is also using AMRAAM's desirability to win South Korea's FX next-generation fighter aircraft contract. The Pentagon has offered South Korea the AIM-120C and other advanced weapon systems if Seoul selects the Boeing F-15 fighter to meet its FX requirement. A winner could be announced in July. The FX project is South Korea's second-largest single weapons procurement project.

Despite its loss to the European Meteor for the United Kingdom's beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) contract, Raytheon is expected to remain the dominate provider of air-to-air missiles over the next decade. According to an analysis prepared by Forecast International/DMS, Raytheon is expected to control nearly 30 percent of a market worth $13.6 billion over the next 10 years.

Although in second place, Matra BAe Dynamics will still see its revenues from air-to-air missile sales reach $2.7 billion during this same period.

"Throw in Europe's other missile manufacturers, like BGT and Vympel, and the continent's share of this market just about equals that of Raytheon," Dickerson said. "If current plans to bring together most of Europe's missile manufacturers under the EADS roof proves successful, Raytheon will have to fight even harder to hold to its leading position within this market." (USAF Photo)

More Merlins delivered to RAF
The first group of EH101 Merlin HC Mk3 helicopters produced by Westland Helicopters Limited for the Royal Air Force have been handed over at RAF Benson. The four aircraft form part of an order for 22 utility variants of EH101 placed by the Ministry of Defence in March 1995. The Release to Service (RTS) for the RAF's Merlin Mk3 helicopters was signed in January 2001 which marked the moment the RAF accepted the clearance of their aircraft to enable progress to advanced training of its pilots using RAF instructors. This RTS will be developed during 2001/02 to enable No 28 Squadron at Benson to use the full capability of the Merlin Mk3 in day and night operations.

Ten EH101 Merlin Mk3 support helicopters have already been accepted by the Merlin Integrated Project Team and a further twelve are in production. Two aircraft are currently at the Defence Evaluation Research Agency (DERA) at Boscombe Down undertaking a range of trials whilst four remain at Yeovil undertaking additional trials activities.

In anticipation of the commencement of Merlin Mk3 operations by No 28 Squadron, RAF air and ground crews have undergone intensive training and familiarisation programmes at Westland's customer training centre. Eight pilots, three navigators and seven air loadmasters have completed their initial training and over two hundred technical and managerial staff have completed their conversion courses.

An essential element of post initial training is underway at RAF Benson at the Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility (MSHATF) which has begun training personnel on the Mk3. This facility includes Mk3 flight simulators, the second of which is scheduled to meet its operational date of April 1.

Canada has become the first third-party customer to use these facilities at RAF Benson as Canadian Armed Forces Labrador helicopter crews recently started conversion training courses to operate the CH-149 Cormorant, Canada's new search and rescue helicopter which will replace the CH-113 Labrador. The first four of Canada's 15 new search and rescue helicopters are now flying and assembly of the tenth aircraft is well advanced at Agusta's Vergiate facility.

Thursday, March 8, 2001

SSI Optimistic About Sale to Ubi Soft.
Carl Norman made the following statement regarding the future of the Flanker Series at

It is true. We are no longer with The Learning Company. Game Studios and SSI are now part of the Ubisoft family.

I have been told that I can say that while there is much evaluation still taking place, and there are many decisions that will be made that will affect what product we will be releasing in the future, this acquistion does not threaten the Flanker V2.5 release or the development of Lock On. In fact, all of the Ubisoft personnel that have reviewed our products have been very enthusiastic about Flanker and Lock On.

I remain optimistic and confident about the future of our air combat simulation plans.

That's all I can say at this point.

Thanks for your support.

Carl C. Norman
Director of Product Development
GAME Studios / SSI
Ubisoft Entertainment

B-17 2 MultiPlayer Survey Results.
Yesterday we told you that has started a petition to Infogrames seeking that multi-player be added back into the game. If you are interested in the current results of the survey, visit:

New Website Design For Team Factor.
Team Factor“s website has a new spring design. Team Factor is a stand-alone multi-player action game designed with team play in mind. The games mission, environment and objective is inspired by the "shadow" military operations - whether real or fiction style. Check it out at: Team Factor

Military News
Command Releases F-16 Accident Report.
Air Combat Command investigators have determined the cause of a midair collision between an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a Cessna 172 near Bradenton, Fla., on Nov. 16. They believe a critical combination of avionics anomalies, procedural errors and individual mistakes -- on the ground and in the air -- led to the accident.

The Cessna pilot, call sign Cessna 829, was killed in the accident. The F-16 pilot, call sign Ninja 2, ejected and sustained minor injuries. Both aircraft were destroyed in the accident.

At the time of the accident, Ninja 2 was part of a two-ship formation preparing to begin a surface-attack-training mission at the Avon Park Air Force Range in Florida. The Cessna had taken off from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, Fla. The other F-16, call sign Ninja 1, was not damaged in the accident and returned safely to Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Air Force investigators identified two causes of the mishap. First, Ninja 2 and Cessna 829 failed to "see and avoid" each other in sufficient time to prevent the mishap. According to the accident investigation report, Ninja 2 expected Ninja 1 to make a sharp left turn onto a low-level military training route at any moment. His immediate focus was to see and avoid Ninja 1. Just prior to the collision, Ninja 2 saw a white flash, but did not realize it was another aircraft. There was conflicting testimony as to whether Cessna 829 saw the F-16 and attempted to maneuver his aircraft prior to the collision.

Second, Tampa air traffic controllers failed to transmit a safety alert to Cessna 829 when their radar system generated "conflict alert" warnings, indicating that two aircraft were in danger of a collision. Investigators determined that if the controllers had issued a safety alert to the Cessna when the first conflict alert began, it is likely the pilot would have had time to maneuver to avoid the collision.

Also, investigators identified three factors that substantially contributed to the accident. First, the F-16 flight lead, Ninja 1, lost situational awareness and descended under visual flight rules into Tampa Class B airspace without proper clearance from Tampa approach controllers. Ninja 1 was required to either avoid entry into Class B airspace or request permission from approach controllers to enter.

Second, Ninja 1's aircraft developed a position error in its navigation system that the pilot failed to recognize. The aircraft was actually nine to 11 miles south of where the pilot believed it to be, based on his internal navigation system reading. As a result, Ninja 1 unknowingly navigated his flight into Sarasota Class C airspace without the required communications with air traffic controllers.

Finally, investigators determined that Ninja 1 had made an inadvertent cursor input to his navigation system during the mission. The pilot failed to recognize the error when he switched into ground attack steering mode. As a result, he unknowingly navigated the flight further off course. If Ninja 1 had noticed the error when he switched to the ground attack steering mode and corrected it, investigators believe the collision could have been avoided. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)

International Challenges for the US In Fighter Market.
The next generation of combat aircraft is moving into production, but timetable slippages have provided the manufacturers of current designs a final opportunity to lobby for attrition buys from their own governments and to peddle their wares on the international market, according to a new report by Forecast International/DMS called "The World Market for Fighter/Attack/Jet Trainer Aircraft - 2001-2010".

Boeing's F-15 is perhaps the most obvious beneficiary of these developments. A year ago this programme appeared to be on its last legs but the US Air Force ordered 10 more with FY00-01 funds, Saudi Arabia wants another 24 and it is no secret that Korea's air force prefers the F-15 to fill its F-X new fighter requirement. Another modest USAF F-15 buy may occur as its intended replacement, the F-22, failed to achieve all milestones required for a Low Rate Initial Production decision in December 2000.

During the next ten years, Forecast International sees this market gathering steam. Nearly 3,500 aircraft in this class, valued at $124 billion, will be produced in 2001-2010. In terms of both unit production and dollar value of same, Boeing will lead the field with 600+ deliveries worth $27.6 billion. With a projected $21 billion in new sales, the Eurofighter consortium will rank second and will be closely trailed by the Lockheed/Boeing team, developing the new F-22, with nearly a $16. 5-billion share.

The US Air Force is still buying small numbers of F-16s from Lockheed Martin, which is also aggressively promoting this aircraft in several international competitions. Including firm, unfilled export orders, Lockheed Martin's F-16 backlog numbers more than 230 units.

The only major US combat aircraft competition now awaiting finalist selection is the USAF/USN Joint Strike Fighter, with the DoD set to choose a winning design in late 2001 from candidates offered by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. This may not result in a "winner take all" contest, as the DoD has already begun seeking ways for the two manufacturers to work as a team after the finalist decision has been made.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is in production, and Greece has committed to buying up to 90 aircraft. That country may also join the consortium, a deal Eurofighter has offered to several sales prospects. Dassault Aviation has delivered the first Rafale Ms to France's Aeronavale, and the manufacturer reports interest from several other nations. The French Air Force will receive its initial Rafale Bs around mid-decade.

To the north, Sweden's Saab has lined up the first export sale of its JAS 39 Gripen, a 28-unit order from South Africa. Saab is promoting the Gripen to several eastern European and Latin American sales prospects. Russia's requirement for 250 jet trainers may simply be shelved due to a lack of funds. Yakovlev and MiG are teamed with Western partners and are seeking export sales. Italy's Aermacchi has begun marketing a version of the Yak, powered by Honeywell F124 engines and fitted with western avionics, under the designation M-346.

Prior to its integration into Korea Aerospace Industries Samsung designed, in collaboration with Lockheed Ft. Worth, the T/A-50 advanced trainer scheduled to fly in 2002. India's Light Combat Aircraft finally flew in January of this year but the programme may not be out of the woods yet. Pakistan and China have begun production of the joint venture K-8 jet trainer to meet the requirements of both countries, and are also hopeful of export sales.

In the coming years Boeing and Lockheed will face increasingly stiff competition from a resurging European industry set to offer its Eurofighter, Rafale, and Gripen contenders. However, assuming cost and performance targets can be met, the upcoming Joint Strike Fighter may be tough to beat.

Forecast International/DMS provides market intelligence and analyses in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics.

Wednesday, March 7, 2001

PC News
Ubi Soft Signs Deal For Game Studios/SSI.
Ubi Soft has signed a deal with parent company, Gores Technology Group, for the acquisition of the entertainment division of The Learning Company. Thanks to this acquisition, Ubi Soft, becomes the publisher of the next two episodes of the Myst® series and grows its catalog by more than 80 titles, including other world-renowned brands like Flanker, Silent Hunter, Destroyer Command and Harpoon. Additionally this new operation in the U.S. considerably reinforces the presence of the Ubi Soft group in North America.

The contribution to 2001-2002 market sales is estimated to be more than 40 million Euros (37 million dollars) with a positive impact on the profitability of Ubi Soft. This acquisition investment should pay for itself very quickly.

Following on the heels of the acquisition of Red Storm Entertainment in August 2000 and of Blue Byte Software in February of 2001, this latest operation is consistent with Ubi Soft's selective acquisition strategy of strong brands. It will bring Ubi Soft a step closer to becoming one of the world's top five publishers, with a goal of 1.5 billion dollars in annual revenues by 2005/2006.

B-17 2 MultiPlayer Survey. has sent us the following information on their Petition to Infogrames seeking Multi-Player be added back into the game.

This survey will help us to try to convice the publishers of B17-2 The Mighty 8th to work on adding Multiplayer into the game. The MORE people who fill this out and pass it on to others ( who would be interested in buying B17-2 if Multiplayer were added in ) to fill it out that you know who are interested in making B17-2 a better game with the addition of Multiplayer. If you already filled out the original B17-2 MP PEtition I want to THANK YOU. I am now starting a NEW SURVEY for everyone who wants B17-2 to have MP added to it. Go to and fill this out - B-17 2 Mulitplayer

Space Empires: IV Patch 1.30 Released.
Shrapnel Games announced today that they have released a new patch for Space Empires: IV. The patch can be downloaded at: Shrapnel Games

Steel Beasts User's Manual Exchange Announced.
Software developer eSim Games announced today that is offering a special program for Steel Beasts customers who would like to buy the latest version of the user's manual. "We've had a lot of requests for the new manual from customers who bought Steel Beasts through our former publisher," said Al Delaney, owner of eSim Games. "Those customers can now buy the new manual for a small fee that covers the cost of production, shipping and handling." Details of the program can be found on eSim Games' web site eSim Games

Military News
Board Determines Cause Of December Plane Crash.
A broken metal rod caused an Air Force T-38 Talon to crash Dec. 5 near Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The two pilots who ejected from the aircraft suffered only minor injuries.

An Air Force accident investigation board found that a fatigue break in a metal rod in the flight control mechanism led to the accident. The fracture made the aircraft uncontrollable, and it crashed into an open wheat field. The aircraft and crew were assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard. The pilots were on a routine flight-training mission.

General Dynamics Awarded Assembly Contract For Abrams Tanks
The United States Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a $31.5 million contract modification to assemble 135 sets of material into Abrams Integrated Management for the 21st Century (AIM XXI) tanks. Work on the firm fixed price contract will be done at the General Dynamics-operated Lima Army Tank Plant in Lima, Ohio (77 percent); and at Land Systems' Scranton Plant in Eynon, Pennsylvania (20 percent), and Muskegon Plant in Muskegon, Michigan (3 percent).

The 135 tanks are to be delivered by June 30, 2002. AIM XXI is a joint effort to refurbish M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks involving the Project Manager Abrams Tank Systems, the United States Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama, and General Dynamics Land Systems. In the AIM XXI program, M1A1 Abrams tanks are completely disassembled and overhauled to a like-new condition.

Nancy Reagan Christens Navy's Newest Carrier.
It only took one swing for former first lady Nancy Reagan to break the traditional bottle of champagne across the bow of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, named for her husband. President George W. Bush assisted in the christening of the USS Ronald Reagan in Newport News, Va., March 4 in freezing temperatures and steady rain.

The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan will be the ninth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. At the time of the christening, Reagan was about 60 percent complete; it is scheduled to for delivery to the Navy in 2003. The Reagan is preceded by eight other ships in the class -- Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis and Harry S. Truman.

The Ronald Reagan towers 20 stories above the waterline, and at 1,092 feet long is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall. The ship displaces approximately 95,000 tons of water when afloat. The Reagan has a 4.5 acre flight deck, more than seven million feet of cable, and, when operational, will house approximately 6,000 personnel and 80 aircraft onboard. The ship will be in service and on-call for missions around the world for the next 50 year.

Russians Unveil Upgraded Jet Fighters.
The Russian air force has revealed upgraded versions of its jet fighters at an air display near Moscow. The full story is available at: BBC News

USS Greeneville Captain Not Testifying.
Cmdr. Scott Waddle, captain of the nuclear submarine USS Greeneville when it struck and sunk a Japanese research ship, will not testify in the U.S. Navy's court of inquiry into the collision. Full Story at: CNN

Tuesday, March 6, 2001

PC News
The Mongol Invasion Movie Released.
In spring 2001, Electronic Arts will be bringing you the next instalment of Shogun Total War - the new expansion pack (The Mongol Invasion) and special edition (Warlord Edition - the original STW and The Mongol Invasion combined). A new game trailer that highlights the action in the special version of Electronic Arts epic real-time strategic game has been released. The trailer, which comes in low-resolution and high-resolution versions, highlights the in-game features and cinematic footage of the new content. The latest version of QUICK Time is required. The upcoming game, in which users will step into the role of a Japanese general who leads massive real-life clans using more than 300 rules written at the hand of warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu, will include a new race, six new battlefield units, new region upgrades, new buildings, an online campaign, multiple battle modes, a map and scenario editor and more.

To download the trailer go here:The Mongol Invasion Movie

For screenshots and more details go here: The Mongol Invasion/Warlords Edition.

Earth and Beyond Website Launched.
Electronic Arts and Westwood Studios together launched the official website for their online space combat tile Earth and Beyond. Earth and Beyond is a "Persistent State Galaxy" game that is played exclusively over the Internet, which means that players mold and shape the game world as you play. If you create or destroy something, it stays that way after you've logged off. A subscription-based fee will be charged monthly for play in Earth and Beyond. Various pricing plans and options are still being formulated and will be announced closer to release in Fall of 2001.

Westwood Studios is currently accepting applications for the beta test for Earth and Beyond, the first Persistent State Galaxy. To get in on the ground floor of this exciting, new project, visit Earth and Beyond - Beta Signup

Military News
MV-22 Review Panel To Report In April.
The panel appointed by the last Secretary of Defense, William Cohen to review all aspects of the V-22 Osprey programme is likely to present its findings to Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld by the end of April, according to the Pentagon. The panel is carrying out a series of fact-finding visits this week to various facilities associated with the V-22 and then will hold its first public meeting.

The four-member panel, chaired by retired Marine Gen. John R. Dailey, yesterday visited the MV-22 training squadron at the centre of allegations that it falsified maintenance records on the MV-22 to present the aircraft in a better light.

The panel will also visit US Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Flodida, the Bell Helicopter Textron final assembly facility in Amarillo, Texas, Bell's engineering and production facilities in Fort Worth, Texas and wrap up its fact-finding tour at Boeing's engineering and production facilities outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Thursday. The panel's fact-finding visits are closed to the public and media. The review panel will hold an open meeting on Friday to receive information from the general public regarding the V-22 programme.

Cohen ordered the review after a series of fatal accidents last year. The panel's remit is to address all aspects including training, engineering and design, production and quality control, suitability to satisfy operational requirements, performance and safety of flight.

New Thermal Sighting System For Starstreak SP HVM
A £70 million order for a Thermal Sighting System which will give the British Army a night time capability as good as daylight has been awarded to Thales Air Defence Limited (formerly Shorts Missile Systems) of Belfast. The new system will be fitted on to the Self Propelled variant of the High Velocity Missile (HVM), a Very Short Range Air Defence Weapon deployed by the Army in support of manoeuvre forces, and designed to attack armoured helicopters and low flying aircraft.

The system uses high performance technology which will give Self Propelled HVM, which is mounted on a Stormer vehicle, a night time capability equivalent to that of day, and enhance the detection and recognition of targets in poor visibility. It is expected to enter service in 2006.

The Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile) continues the development path of both Blowpipe and Javelin. It can be shoulder launched, fired from the Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) or vehicle borne on the Alvis Stormer APC which has an 8 round launcher (12 reload missiles can be carried inside the vehicle). Starstreak is designed to counter threats from very high performance low flying aircraft and fast pop-up type strikes by attack helicopters. The missile employs a system of 3 dart type projectiles which allows multiple hits on the target.

NASSCO Delivers the USNS Watkins to the US Navy.
National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), has delivered the USNS Watkins (T-AKR 315) to the US Navy. The Watkins is the sixth new construction ship completed by NASSCO under the US Navy's Strategic Sealift Programme. A total of eight new construction ships and three ship conversions have been awarded to NASSCO under the 20-ship Strategic Sealift Program. All of the ships are being named for US Army Medal of Honor recipients. This ship is named in honor of Army Master Sgt. Travis E. Watkins, (1920-1950), who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions in the Korean War.

The sealift new construction ships are large, medium-speed, roll-on, roll-off ships (LMSRs). The ships are assigned to the US Navy's Military Sealift Command, and are prepositioned to quickly deliver US Army tanks, armoured personnel carriers, tractor-trailers, and other equipment and supplies to potential areas of conflict around the world. The ships also provide surge sealift support of remote military actions. Their multi-use capabilities make these cargo ships among the most flexible ever built. The USNS Watkins is 950 feet in length, has a beam of 105 feet and displaces approximately 62,000 long tons when fully loaded. The ship has over 390,000 square feet of cargo carrying space. The gas turbine-powered ship will be able to sustain speeds up to 24 knots when fully loaded. (NASSCO Photo)

Monday, March 3, 2001

PC News
Game Studios Sale Confirmed.
A press release this morning confirms that Ubi Soft Entertainment and Gores Technologies Group (GTG) are preparing to close a definitive agreement for the sale of The Learning Company's Entertainment (TLC) Division to Ubi Soft Entertainment. As we reported on Friday, Ubi Soft was expected to acquire TLC including Game Studios. Gores, which acquired TLC in October, 2000, has turned TLC into a profitable unit, however, early on GTG and TLC management identified the Entertainment Division (which includes Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI)), as a "non-core" part of the company. Gores had recieved a number of offers for Games Studios before signing an agreement with Ubi Soft Entertainment. Financial terms were not disclosed.

SSI will be joining Blue Byte Software as the latest acquisition by Ubi Soft Entertainment. This places Ubi Soft in control of the most highly anticipated, and Russian-designed, air combat simulations due out in 2001. Blue Byte is set to release IL-2 Sturmovik, SSI plans to release the free upgrade Flanker 2.5 this March, and the third in the Flanker series, Lock On: Modern Air Combat, is slated for Summer 2001. Other combat simulations with 2001 releases from SSI include, Silent Hunter II, Destroyer Command and Harpoon 4.

Codemasters Eight New Titles Discounted.
A report on gaming website GA-Source touted information on eight possible releases from UK-based Codemasters, but FGN Online this morning confirmed that none of these games are in production. The original report said that offerings such as Delta Force: Elite Driver and Apache Command Pilot were "potential future releases," being careful not to claim that the titles were in development. Although it was not made clear in the GA-Source report, the information came from a newsletter that Codemasters used as a form of research to see how the gaming public would react to new ideas; none of the titles are in production or even planned for release at this time.

Military News
C-23 Crashes In Georgia, 21 Dead.
Three members of the Florida National Guard and 18 members of the 203rd RED HORSE Engineering Flight from Virginia Beach, Va., died March 3 near Unadilla, Ga., when the Army C-23 Sherpa aircraft they were flying in crashed. The accident occurred while the aircraft was en route from Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Oceana, Va.

"I extend my deepest sympathy to the families who lost their loved ones in yesterday's tragic plane crash in Georgia," said Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on March 4. "Military service involves great danger, in times of peace as well as war, and this accident provides stark proof of that. We will do our very best to take care of the needs of family members in this difficult time. All 21 of these fine Americans served their country honorably and well and we will remember their service and sacrifice."

The cause of the accident is under investigation. (Courtesy Photo)

Lockheed Martin Demonstrates New U-2 Cockpit Displays.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company's U-2 Dragon Lady Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program, or RAMP, a cockpit modernization upgrade, has been undergoing testing for more than two months now, after beginning flights three months ahead of schedule. RAMP will upgrade the 1960s-vintage cockpit with newly installed equipment, including three 6-by-8-inch multifunction displays, an up-front control and display unit, and an independent secondary flight display system. The new equipment replaces older systems that are no longer supportable and provides improved pilot situational awareness. The entire fleet of 31 U-2S models and four two-cockpit trainers will be modified before the project is completed in 2007.

"Flight testing is proceeding as scheduled with incremental successes," said Bryan Swords, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company aero project manager. "We've had six flights to date, with another 11 scheduled over the next four months." Low- and high-altitude flights have been successfully completed, as well as a nighttime taxi to evaluate display lighting conditions, Swords said.

"RAMP will significantly reduce the pilot's workload," said Eric Hansen, an Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company aero test pilot who made the first test flight. "From a human factors standpoint, this program represents a victory for U-2 pilots."

RAMP uses commercial off-the-shelf equipment, some of which must be modified to meet the special needs of the high-altitude U-2 aircraft. A new main avionics processor will receive signals that currently drive the instruments and then digitize, process and output information to various smart multifunction displays. Head-forward controls increase situational awareness and replace existing radio controls, which distracted the pilot, who had to look downward and backward when changing frequencies during flight, a most difficult task while wearing a pressurized suit.

The RAMP contract was awarded in October 1998. Flight tests on the engineering and manufacturing development vehicle will be completed by July, and the first production aircraft will begin its six-month modification cycle in August. Six aircraft will be modified per year, with the production rate governed by the U-2 periodic depot maintenance cycle. (Courtesy Photo)

BAE SYSTEMS Dispute With UK Over Destroyer Contract.
BAE SYSTEMS decided last week that it was not interested in anything less than the whole of the UK's Type 45 contract. The Type 45 is the UK's latest destroyer, and original plans called for the work to be split between BAE SYSTEMS and Vosper Thornycroft.

Speaking at the presentation of the company's accounts BAE chairman Sir Richard Evans was quoted as saying "If the MoD continues to drip-feed ship orders around the country, I do not know if we would want to stay in business."

BAE SYSTEMS has three shipyards, two on the Clyde (Govan and Scotstoun) and one in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. The company ha said it will invest £150 million in the yards to create a "world class naval ship-building business", but only if it got the whole of the Type 45 contract for 12 ships, worth an estimated £5 billion.

BAE Systems is warning the Government it may pull out of shipbuilding unless it wins all 12 orders, worth almost £5 billion, for new Type 45 destroyers for the Royal Navy. It says that giving Vosper a share in the contract will only create over capacity. Vosper has plans to close its present yard in Southampton and move to a bigger yard in Portsmouth if its share in the order is confirmed.

The dispute is part of a larger argument that BAE SYSTEMS is having with the MOD over the award of contracts which the company says does not provide an acceptable shareholder return.

A spokesman for the MOD said that, while the BAE SYSTEMS proposal was being considered, the current system dictated that competitive tendering by different yards ensured value for money for the taxpayer.

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