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Daily News
by Gail Helmer

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Friday, April 6, 2001

PC News
IL-2 Sturmovik Development Update
This weeks update, from Oleg Maddox, evaluates the command lines to control AI planes in single play and COOP multiplay. Click here for this weeks update.

TalonSoft's Fall of the Reich Released
TalonSoft announced today that "TalonSoft's Fall of the Reich", the expansion pack to East Front II, is now available. East Front II, portrays tactical combat on the Russian Front in its entirety, with an up close and personal look at the Second World War. Players receive three extra campaigns and 17 stand-alone scenarios as the Allies close in on Berlin. New features include Maus tanks, night fighting with flares. Click here for more information, or to order.

Air Command 3.0 Delayed!
Shrapnel Games announced today that the air traffic control simulation, Air Command 3, has been delayed and will be shipping April 12th. Air Command 3.0 is a simulation of air traffic control. Click here for the demo.

Timothy W. Brooks, President of Shrapnel Games, said, "This was nothing that could be avoided. The CD replication equipment broke down while Air Command 3.0 was on the machine. Our vendor kept telling us that it would be up and running by the end of the day. This has gone on since last Friday. Yesterday, we secured access to another replication machine and expect to ship the product, next Thursday, April 12th. I want to apologize to our customers and the fans of Air Command 3.0 and to our Developer Joe Jaworski."

Military News
The EP-3E, how much of an intelligence windfall does it present?
Jane's is reporting that the Aircraft PR-32, the EP-3E Aries II currently in Chinese hands after its forced landing on Hainan Island on 1 April, may well have just emerged from a major upgrade known as the Sensor Systems Improvement Program (SSIP). There is at least a one in three chance of this being the case. Such a platform would rank as the most sophisticated airborne electronic surveillance asset in the US Navy's inventory; in terms of the damage caused to US intelligence by its loss, its loss to the Chinese would thus be on a par with the shootdown of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft flown by Gary Powers over the Soviet Union in 1960. Click here for the full story.

Satellite Imaging Exposes China's Lingshui Military Airbase
Jane's has posted the 1m resolution satellite image of Lingshui military airfield that was collected by Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite at 10:12 hrs local time on 4 April. International press attention has, of course, focused on the US EP-3, but there are a number of other interesting aspects to the image. Click here to view.

M88A2 HERCULES Recovery Vehicle Delivered to USMC
The U.S. Marine Corps received its first delivery of the M88A2 HERCULES, the world's most advanced tank recovery system. The M88A2 provides significant enhancements over the M88A1, the Corps' current recovery workhorse, including 25 percent more towing muscle, 40 percent more lifting strength, and 55 percent more winch power, and is able to operate with fewer crewmembers. This capability enables a single M88A2 to safely do the same work as two M88A1s in recovering a 70-ton M1Abrams, the Marines' main battle tank.

The M88A2 HERCULES makes it possible to safely recover M1 Abrams tanks and other tracked vehicles up to 70 tons. The M88A2 provides significant enhancements from the M88A1. HERCULES features a V12 1050hp turbo-charged diesel engine, 35-ton boom, overlay armor, 70-ton (140,000-pound) constant pull main winch, 3-ton auxiliary winch (used to deploy the main winch cable) increased speed, and improved steering and braking systems. HERCULES' increased capabilities allow three crewmembers in a single M88A2 to do the same work as two M88A1s and eight crewmembers in successfully conducting a 70-ton recovery mission. One M88A2 HERCULES can also upright an overturned M1 tank, or lift and carry an M1 turret. The USMC M88A2 is nearly identical to the U.S. Army vehicles now being fielded, with the addition of several specific USMC requirements, including a deep water fording kit.

CID Probes Net $78 Million From Manufacturers
  • A six-year investigation recently ended when the Boeing company agreed to pay the government almost $62 million to settle a lawsuit filed after two CH-47 Chinook helicopters crashed, allegedly due to faulty transmission gears.

    A Boeing supplier, SPECO, which manufactures the helicopter transmission gears, also paid the government nearly $16 million under an earlier settlement.

    At least $32 million so far in monies, inventory, tooling and equipment has been awarded directly to the Army as a result of the case, officials said.

    The investigation was handled in part by an arm of the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Detroit Fraud Resident Agency. Special Agent William Janiga of the DFRA had a significant role in the joint investigation, along with Special Agent Conrad Swensen of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in Dayton, Ohio.

    The investigation began in November 1994 when information was received that transmission gears manufactured by the SPECO Corporation were responsible for at least two accidents involving CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The gears were believed to have a defect known as "continuous inter-granular carbide networking." When the gears failed, one aircraft was destroyed and another received major damage.

    The investigation resulted in a civil lawsuit being filed under the False Claims Act. The trial attorneys were Dennis Phillips and Paul Wogaman, Civil Division, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. The settlement with SPECO was reached in December 1996. In the recent settlement with Boeing, an additional $14 million is pending appeal.

    Even more important than the money, officials said, is the resulting identification of a safety issue and the removal of gears manufactured by SPECO from the Army and Boeing inventories and all CH-47 aircraft.

  • `Used Pizza Oven' Case
    Another recent CID investigation involving a manufacturer of Bradley Fighting Vehicle drive assembly gears concluded with the contractor agreeing to pay the government more than $47,700.

    Jo-Bar Manufacturing of Bedford, Ohio, entered into a plea agreement, resulting in restitution of the full contract price, $44,707.20, plus $3,000 administrative costs.

    The firm's contract with the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command specified that the Bradley gears were to be welded using a costly "electronic beam weld" process. Visual inspection of the finished gears by quality assurance inspectors could not determine if this process was actually used.

    When the gears began to fail, subsequent testing determined that they had not been welded as required, officials said. Investigators found Jo-Bar had used a "heat-shrink fit" process which was accomplished by placing one piece of the gear into a "used pizza oven" to heat and expand it. The cold, unheated or "shrunken" piece was then pressed into the heated, "expanded" piece. When the pieces regained their normal temperature, they would "bind" together and give the appearance of having been properly welded.

    In addition to the restitution and costs, officials said all the gears were removed from warehouses or returned by field units and subsequently destroyed.

    The investigation was conducted jointly by Special Agents William Janiga of the Detroit Fraud Resident Agency and Special Agent Timothy Robertson of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Goodyear settlement
    Another TACOM contractor -- Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company -- recently agreed to a settlement, ending a three-year investigation into out-of-tolerance track shoes for the M88A1 and M88A2 Recovery Vehicles

    Under the terms of the settlement, not only was Goodyear required to provide 5,000 replacement track shoes valued at $300,000 at no additional expense to the Army, but the firm also agreed to replace or modify its production line at a cost of $153,000 -- also at no cost to the Army.

    The investigation involved extensive testing and inspection of track shoes manufactured by Goodyear, officials said. Had the administrative settlement not been reached, it was estimated that additional testing and inspection of the track would have been required in preparation for criminal and civil litigation. The associated costs to the Army for the testing alone were estimated to exceed an additional $300,000 - $400,000.

    The investigation was conducted jointly by Special Agent William Janiga of the Detroit Fraud Resident Agency and Special Agent Timothy Robertson of DCIS in Cleveland, Ohio.
CAE Joins Team Cormorant, Forms Consortium With Agusta SpA
CAE is to join Team Cormorant in its bid for the Canadian Maritime Helicopter Program, the Cdn$2.9-billion project to replace the Canadian Navy's ageing Sea King helicopters. Team Cormorant partners include the founding companies, Agusta, Westland, and EHI, as well as Bell Helicopter Textron of Mirabel, Quebec, and The Boeing Company. CAE is also forming a consortium with Agusta SpA, an AgustaWestland company, one of the world's largest helicopter manufacturers, and will offer training solutions for the full range of Agusta aircraft. This new consortium will pursue global opportunities over the long-term.

As part of Team Cormorant, CAE will provide simulators and mission training systems for the Cormorant helicopter, should the aircraft eventually be selected by the Government of Canada for its Maritime Helicopter Program. CAE has manufactured simulators for this helicopter type in the past, for both the UK's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The Canadian Forces' search-and-rescue aircrews are already training on CAE simulators at CAE's Medium Support Helicopter Training Facility at RAF Benson in the United Kingdom. In 1998, Team Cormorant won a Cdn$630-million contract to supply 15 search-and-rescue helicopters to replace Canada's retiring fleet of Labradors.

"As the world leader in simulation and training, CAE is proud to join Team Cormorant and AgustaWestland to provide state-of-the-art training systems to the Canadian Forces and to AgustaWestland's other customers," said Donald W. Campbell, Executive Vice-President of CAE's Military Simulation and Training Division. "These agreements demonstrate the ongoing commitment of both Team Cormorant and AgustaWestland to the Canadian aerospace industry by offering CAE's Canadian training solutions for the Maritime Helicopter Program, and for our other international helicopter programmes," said Giuseppe Orsi, Managing Director, Marketing and Sales, at AgustaWestland.

Thursday, April 5, 2001

PC News
Patch For Flanker 2.5 In The Works
After the release of Flanker 2.5 last week, the Flanker community has uncovered bugs, and compatability issues. To avoid delays with Lock On:Modern Air Combat, SSI has identified six issues they will patch in v2.51. The Patch is in the works, and an open beta will be announced soon. We will keep you posted on its development.

The small patch will address the following:
  • The gun pipper inaccuracy
  • The padlock display problem where the speed and altitude of the target are missing from the HUD.
  • The inability to use aerial refueling in multiplayer sessions
  • The inability to record track files in multiplayer sessions.
  • The problems with USB joysticks and throttles.
  • Flicker problems with some Geforce cards.
CFS II Add-on Pearl Harbor Announced
Flight One has announced a new add-on pack for Combat Flight Simulator II, Pearl Harbor. "Pearl Harbor will include historically accurate missions as they relate to the date of December 7, 1941 that forever changed American and Japanese lives. Pearl Harbor will also include unique “what if” missions that will allow the user to explore and participate in scenarios that “may” have altered the course of history. Pearl Harbor will also include custom aircraft and accurate scenery areas that compliment CFS2’s Pacific Theatre package. More details to be announced shortly. Click here for more information on Flight One Software.

Military News
Navy Aircraft Not A Spy Plane
The Navy EP-3 aircraft and its 24-person crew now on the Chinese island of Hainan were conducting routine reconnaissance in international airspace over the South China Sea and not spying, a Defense Department spokesperson said. Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said espionage was not part of the Navy aircraft's mission. "This was overt, routine surveillance and reconnaissance, which is carried out around the world on a pretty regular basis by a variety of nations, the United States among them," Quigley said, refuting media reports that have suggested the EP-3 was on a spy mission.

Reconnaissance missions are carried out in international airspace under international rules, he said, adding that "the terms 'spy,' and 'spy plane,' and '24 spies on board,' and stuff like that just doesn't reflect the actuality" of the EP-3's mission. Quigley said the U.S. State Department has the lead in obtaining the release of the Navy aircraft and its crew, and that an U.S. diplomatic delegation met with the EP-3 crew April 3. President Bush said April 3 that a military officer with that U.S. delegation "tells me they are in good health, they suffered no injuries, and they have not been mistreated. "Our crew members expressed their faith in America, and we have faith in them," Bush said. "They send their love to their families. They said they're looking forward to coming home, and we are looking forward to bringing them home."

The president said April 2 that the United States had offered the Chinese help in searching for the missing fighter pilot who collided with the American plane on March 31. The United States' approach throughout the situation had been to keep the accident from becoming an international incident, Bush said. Quigley called the mid-air collision "an accident, to the best of everybody's knowledge." He said there had been "several fairly close approaches by Chinese fighters" around U.S. surveillance flights in the past three to four months. "We have expressed our concerns to the Chinese, thinking that they were flying too close, creating an unsafe situation," he said, adding that U.S. officials would need to interview the EP-3 crew to completely assess the cause of the collision. After the collision, about 70 miles from Hainan, the EP-3 flashed a mayday and then made the short flight to the nearest airfield -- which was on Hainan, he said.

Wednesday, April 4, 2001

PC News
Warcommander Update.
CDV Software Entertainment reveals more on the upcoming RTS Warcommander. The real time tactics game, is a mix of Sudden Strike and Commandos. The player steers a clear amount of units in isometric view with specific strengths and weaknesses. Set in Europe during the Second World War, players have to put together a task force consisting of up to 50 allied soldiers from 11 different types of units before going into action. Two campaigns from the point of view of US forces, with more than 30 gripping levels and additional special missions combine strategic puzzles and adrenaline pumping action. Developers Independent Arts are working 24/7 to make the release this year possible. Release Date: Fall 2001.

Age of Sails II Patch V1.50.
Talonsoft has released patch version 1.50 for Age of Sails II. This update replaces V1.01 and includes all improvements, added features, campaigns, and tech support updates of V1.01. Click Here to download the 1.49 MB file now. V1.50 includes the following improvements, added features, and tech support updates:

  • New icon for surrendered ship
  • New icon for captured ship
  • Game spy logo on find Internet game window
  • Message in chat window if one player leaves multiplayer game
  • Improved Ship List 'scrolling.
  • Cannon's Recharge improved:
  • Left Mouse Button Change Next Type
  • Right Mouse Button Reload
  • Icons on ship improved. Sometimes icons crawl over player's name.
  • Chat window feature during battle added
  • Ships will change flag in campaign by side, not by nationality.
  • Captured ships now should carry player's side flag.
  • Guns Repair issue addressed
  • Guns can be repaired during battle.
  • Many AI improvements.
  • AI much more aggressive
  • "End" feature (E-key) feature improved setup.exe in the game folder can give ability to user to select video card if more than one video card installed in computer
  • This feature will allow users with old daughter cards like Voodoo 2 play the game. It can also switch off all intro movies.
  • Completely new ships path finding
  • Improved shot system
  • Ships should not fire to enemy ship if friendly ships are in front of enemy.
  • Multiplayer better tasks synchronization
  • When surrendered ships captured flag should be changed to side that put a prize crew and icon that ship is captured displayed
  • All known problems with Voodoo 3 fixed black gunrange, missing splashes, white windows
  • Repair task
  • Save & load issues fixes
  • Ships capturing (including surrendered ships) and ability to buy them in their future
  • Lot's of small fixes
Edge of Chaos Independence War 2 Trailer.
Infogrames has released a trailer for Edge of Chaos "Independence War 2". Click Here to download the 20mb file. Release Date: April 2001

Sudden Strike Forever Goes Gold.
CDV Software has announced that Sudden Strike Forever has gone gold and will be released in Germany on April 6, 2001. For gamers worldwide it will be available May 4, 2001. The official Sudden Strike add-on includes a minimum of 4 single player and 10 multiplayer missions, including entirely new types of multi play, a map-and-mission editor, GameSpy support, summer, winter, fall and desert sceneries as well as an improved and faster interface. Click Here to view screenshots from the video.

Military News
Pilot Ejects Safely Prior To F-16 Crash.
First Lt. Mark Hadley ejected safely as his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed into the sea off northern Japan April 2. Hadley, who is assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron here, and his aircraft were a part of an air-to-ground combat training exercise at Ripsaw Range here at the time of the crash. The fighter plunged into the sea about 12 miles northeast of the base. A Japanese navy helicopter rescued Hadley about 30 minutes after the crash. A board of officers will investigate the accident.

Soldiers On Kosovo Border Seize Weapons, Ammo.
Soldiers in the American sector of Kosovo confiscated several caches of weapons last week near the Macedonian border and detained more than 30 suspected guerrilla supporters. The seizures included a large number of weapons, ammunition, grenades and mines found March 31 in an abandoned extremist camp south of the Kosovo town of Krivenik.

A patrol of Polish soldiers from the Polish-Ukrainian Battalion found the abandoned camp Saturday night. They confiscated 59 rocket-propelled grenades, three machine guns with more than 12,000 rounds of ammunition, a shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket, 133 mortar rounds and fuses, 59 F-1 grenades, 16 M-70 grenades, 67 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines and 300 grams of TNT.

The cache was initially taken to the Polish-Ukranian battalion base camp, White Eagle, for processing and inventory. The battalion is under the Multinational Brigade East headed up by the 1st Armored Division at Camp Bondsteel. The weapons cache will be taken to Camp Bondsteel for further processing, officials said.

Norwegian KFOR soldiers also discovered a weapons cache near the border town of Gorno Zlokucane March 30.

Equipment confiscated included three AK-47s, two SKS rifles, one machine gun, 400 rounds of small-arms ammunition, one hand grenade and one German high-explosive anti-tank rocket. They later detained 11 suspects near Kosovo's border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

"We will continue our increased efforts to interdict materiel support for extremists that are attempting to operate in Kosovo or attempting to export violence into the FYROM," said Col. Tom Gross, Task Force Falcon chief of staff. He said the seizures demonstrate the Kosovo Force's ability to secure the border.

Raytheon Awarded STANDARD Missile Production Contract.
Raytheon Company has been awarded a $119.2 million contract from the U.S. Navy for STANDARD Missile-2 fiscal 2001 production. Under the firm fixed-priced contract, Raytheon will deliver to the Navy 75 Block IIIB missiles, 80 Block IIIB ordnance alteration kits to upgrade SM-2 Block II/III missiles to the SM-2 Block IIIB configuration; 40 Warhead Compatible Telemeters; and spares, shipping containers and handling equipment. The contract also includes 48 Block III and IIIA missiles for foreign military sales.

The STANDARD Missile-2's primary role is to provide area defense against enemy aircraft and anti-ship missiles. The SM-2 Block IIIB entered the fleet in 1998, and incorporates a side-mounted infrared seeker to aid in endgame guidance. The STANDARD Missile is operational on guided missile cruisers, destroyers and frigates in the U.S. Navy and is in operation with more than 13 allied navies.(Raytheon Photo)

Lockheed Martin Awarded Fifth F-2 Fighter Contract.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the prime contractor for Japan's new F-2 support fighter, has awarded a fifth annual contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. for tasks in the manufacture of an additional nine F-2 production aircraft. Lockheed Martin already is producing components for the first 36 aircraft under four previous annual contracts. This fifth contract, which began April 1 and is valued at over $180 million, brings the total to 45 aircraft. Under this contract, Lockheed Martin will continue to provide all the aft fuselages, wing leading-edge flaps and stores management systems; 80 percent of all left-hand wing boxes; and other avionics and avionics support equipment.

In July 2000, Lockheed Martin successfully concluded activity on the second major contract and is currently delivering products required in the third contract. Lockheed Martin components are shipped to MHI's Komaki-South facility in Nagoya, Japan, where they are assembled with other components by MHI to form the F-2.

Japan selected the F-16 as the basis for the design of its new support fighter in 1987. The Japan Defense Agency's Technical Research and Development Institute this past summer completed extensive flight tests in Japan of four prototype aircraft, designated XF-2. MHI delivered the first production aircraft to the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) in a ceremony at its Komaki-South facility in September 2000. By the end of March 2001, 18 F-2s were delivered to the JDA.

Lockheed Martin was the principal U.S. subcontractor during development and also has that role in the production of the F-2. The JDA plans to purchase 130 F-2s. (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics photo)

U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force Order 59 T-6A Texan II Aircraft.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force have ordered 59 T-6A Texan II aircraft and technical support from Raytheon Aircraft Company worth $148.3 million for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) program. The Navy will receive 24 aircraft and the Air Force will receive 35 aircraft. The JPATS program calls for the Navy to receive 328 aircraft through the year 2017, and the Air Force 454 aircraft. Of the 167 production aircraft ordered to date for the JPATS program, 30 are slated for the Navy and 137 have been ordered by the Air Force, which is scheduled to begin training later this year. Initial Operating Capability with 15 aircraft at Moody Air Force Base (Ga.) is on track for June. The Navy, which ordered its first six aircraft in lot seven, is scheduled to begin training in 2003.

"This lot option is a reaffirmation of the Navy's commitment to the JPATS program," said David Riemer, vice president, Government Business for Raytheon Aircraft. "The joint services recognize that the T-6A Texan II brings enhanced safety and significant cost savings over current training aircraft." Deliveries for this option will begin in May 2003. Option eight brings the total value under the acquisition contract to $852.6 million for both aircraft and the Ground Based Training System.

Combined with the order of 24 T-6A aircraft by Bombardier Services for the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program and the sale of 45 aircraft to the Hellenic Air Force of Greece, total orders for the Trainer Systems Division are 236 aircraft. At the end of 2000, all 24 NFTC T-6As had been delivered and the program is currently training pilots. The Hellenic Air Force had taken delivery of six aircraft. Raytheon Aircraft expects additional international sales as the world's training fleet reaches its service life. (Raytheon Photo)

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

PC News
Fly! II's Persistent Multiplayer.
GodGames has released new information about Fly! II. The game will feature a multi-player system that is designed to create a persistent multi-player world that provides a realistic flight experience and long-term playability . The multi-player world features real-time downloadable weather, other user aircraft, working radios, and file sharing. Players will be able to connect to the game's continuous online multiplayer environment without the need to create or join groups. Players interested in flying with their friends will also be able to locate and teleport their friends to their location. Fly! II is developed by Terminal Reality, and is scheduled for release April 27. Click Here to visit the Fly! website.

Military News
F-22 Flies 200th Mission.
Raptor 4002 met another F-22 program achievement March 28, when it became the first F-22 to fly 200 test missions. There are four flight test F-22s at Edwards, with the remaining four engineering and manufacturing development Raptors scheduled to join the fleet by the end of 2001. (Photo by Kevin Robertson)

Monday, April 2, 2001

PC News
Conflict: Desert Storm Screenshots.
From the creators of the critically acclaimed Warzone 2100, Pivotal Games, comes Conflict: Desert Storm. Conflict: Desert Storm places you right in the middle of the action. It makes you the star of your very own war movie as you lead your Special Forces team against the Iraqi Republican Guard. You have the whole Gulf War to live through. Jets roar overhead, tanks race past you, and helicopter gunships shoot up enemy positions. .Release Date: 2002 for PC. Click Here to visit the website.

Aces High Weather and Terrain Editor Released.
HiTech Creations has released a weather and terrain editor for offline use. It is available on their download page. Click Here for the download page.

IL-2 Sturmovik Development Update.
This week Oleg Maddox has posted more screenshots including the multiplayer interface, and internal cockpit. Click Here to check out the latest.

Altec Lansing Annouces New Line of Headphones and Headsets.
Altec Lansing Technologies, Inc., today announced the company's entry into the headphone and headset markets with a new line of products designed for personal entertainment and voice-entry applications. The new headphones and headsets draw on Altec Lansing's expertise in compact audio designs and stellar audio technology to provide crisp high-quality sound. Ideal for users on the go, the headphones are perfect for a variety of portable audio devices including MP3, CD and DVD players. For use in the office and at home, the headsets provide accurate voice capture and exquisite sound quality from desktop and personal computers. The Altec Lansing line of headsets and headphones will be available at major electronics retailers throughout the US and Canada in June.

AMD Announces 900MHz AMD Duron™ Processor.
AMD today announced the availability of the 900MHz AMD Duron processor, its highest performance AMD Duron processor to date. Designed to meet the needs--today and tomorrow--of value-conscious home and office desktop computer users, the 900MHz AMD Duron processor enhances AMD's processor lineup, which delivers a full spectrum of innovative solutions.

"AMD Duron processor-based systems provide up to a 30 percent performance advantage over Celeron processor-based systems at like processor speeds," said Pat Moorhead, vice president of Marketing for AMD. "Both business and home users will appreciate the capabilities they'll get with the new 900MHz AMD Duron processor. Businesses will find that the 900MHz AMD Duron processor's optimized design and scalability deliver outstanding performance for office productivity applications. Home users will find that the 900MHz AMD Duron processor provides exciting multimedia entertainment and excellent personal productivity solutions. In both environments, the AMD Duron processor-based system is far and away the best solution for value-conscious buyers."

The AMD Duron processor line was developed with mainstream computing in mind. The widespread availability of UMA (Unified Memory Architecture) integrated graphics chipsets, which remove the need for standalone graphics cards in PCs, provides rich configurations while reducing graphics costs.

Military News
Chinese Hold US Surveillance Aircraft.
A US Navy EP-3 Aries II aircraft is being held by Chinese authorities on Hainan island, the southern most point of Chinese territory, after being forced to make an emergency landing following a mid-air collision with a Chinese F-8 fighter. Both the US and China accuse the other of causing the mid-air incident. The EP-3, a SIGINT aircraft, was in international airspace, conducting surveillance of Chinese territory when two Chinese aircraft intercepted it. As a result of the clash one fighter crashed into the sea, (the pilot is unaccounted for) and the US aircraft is thought to have damage to an engine and the fuselage.

The EP-3 is now under guard at a Chinese military airbase. The US has told China that it regards the plane as 'sovereign territory' and that China should not attempt to board it. The 24 crew are apparently unharmed. The incident comes as tension between China and the US is increasing. The US is considering Taiwan's annual request for upgraded weapons, including Aegis destroyers that have sophisticated radars which could form the heart of a missile defence system. China has repeatedly said that the US should not supply such technology to Taiwan, which it considers a province in revolt against the state.

Officials from the US Embassy in Beijing are en route to the island to help secure the release of the aircraft, full of sophisticated technology for eavesdropping on communications and radar signals. The US has been conducting this type of surveillance on a regular basis, and missions have been intercepted by Chinese fighters on several occasions, but sources say that in recent weeks the actions of the intercepting fighters have become more aggressive.

Second Body Found At Crash Site In Scotland.
Mountain rescue teams located a second body March 30 at the crash site of two U.S. Air Force F-15C aircraft reported missing on March 26. Formal identification by medical officials will be conducted following recovery of the body. Search and rescue teams located and identified the second missing U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle aircraft March 28 about 400 yards from the wreckage of the first aircraft on the summit of Ben Macdui in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland.

The discovery was made by Royal Air Force and civilian mountain rescue teams. The rescue teams experienced some of the worst weather conditions seen in the last 17 years including temperatures of minus 24 degrees Fahrenheit, severe avalanche risk and zero visibility. Lt. Col. Kenneth Hyvonen, 40, from the 48th Operations Support Squadron, and Capt. Kirk Jones, from the 493rd Fighter Squadron here were each piloting an F-15C, when both disappeared off radar March 26 over northern Scotland. Hyvonen's remains, and the wreckage of the first F-15C were located March 27. The F-15C aircraft is a single-seat, all-weather, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. A board of U.S. Air Force officers will investigate the cause of the accident.

F-15 Eagles Receiving Radar Upgrade.
The U.S. Air Force has begun deploying the APG-63(v)1 radar -a Boeing-installed system that greatly improves radar performance and reliability -to its operational F-15 units. Last month the Air Force's 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia became the first unit to receive a production (v)1 system. The (v)1 is an upgrade to the out-of-production Raytheon APG-63 and APG-70 radars. The upgrade includes a new transmitter, receiver, data processor, low-voltage power supply and signal data converter. It provides a 10-fold increase in radar reliability while increasing system capacity for future growth.

"The (v)1 program provides F-15s with world-leading radar capabilities," said Bruce Glaser, engineering lead for Boeing F-15 programs. "The Air Force, Boeing and Raytheon are working to ensure that today's F-15 crews, and those that will fly the airplane years from now, have what they need to maintain the airplane's unequalled combat performance and air superiority." Boeing, which builds the F-15 in St. Louis, is responsible for installing the (v)1 components, which are primarily supplied by Raytheon. Boeing has integrated virtually all subsystems on the F-15 since the aircraft entered production.

At least 170 U.S. Air Force F-15s are expected to receive the (v)1 upgrade. The (v)1 is the world's newest operational radar. Other nations that now operate F-15s are also interested in upgrading to this system. (USAF Photo)

General Dynamics Receives M1A2 Tank Contract.
The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a multiyear contract to deliver 307 M1A2 Abrams upgrade tanks with the System Enhancement Package (SEP), awarding a $240 million increment of the $741 million contract on Friday, March 30, 2001. Contract funding will be awarded in three yearly increments with a period of performance from August 2001 through December 2004. This is a follow-on award to the Phase II, $1.5 billion, 580 vehicle contract awarded July 1996, and the Phase I, $417 million, 206 vehicle contract awarded September 1994.

The purpose of the M1A2 SEP is to enhance the fightability of the system on today's battlefield while preparing the platform for tomorrow's challenges. The SEP tank's Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sights, crew displays, Auxiliary Power Unit, digital command and control system, and Thermal Management System improve the tank crew's ability to fight and survive on the battlefield. The insertion of affordable, preplanned technology improvements, such as new processors, increased memory and improved durability, will ensure the tank's ability to maintain its combat edge.

PAC-3 Missile Intercepts Target in White Sands Test.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Dallas, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Army conducted yet another successful flight of a Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., this morning. The intercept by the PAC-3 Missile of a tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target was the seventh consecutive successful intercept for PAC-3. The PAC-3 Missile has a perfect flight test record.

The PAC-3 Missile Developmental Test 8 (DT-8) was the first multiple simultaneous engagement of multiple TBM targets in the test program. Two PAC-3 Missiles engaged a Hera Modified Ballistic Re-entry Vehicle equipped with a simulated unitary warhead. A PAC-2 missile simultaneously engaged a Patriot-As-A-Target (PAAT).

The PAC-3 Missile engagement was the first "Tactical Ripple Mode" launch, where two PAC-3 Missiles were launched at a single TBM target. Both PAC-3 Missiles were fired from the same Patriot launcher, with several seconds separating the launches. The first PAC-3 Missile successfully engaged and killed the target. The second PAC-3 Missile then performed its tactical self-destruct sequence. Preliminary test data indicate all test objectives were successfully achieved.

"The PAC-3 Missile has a perfect flight test record," said Mike Trotsky, vice president air defense marketing for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "This was our most challenging test to date. But the PAC-3 Missile continues to prove itself as the world's most effective and successful air defense missile. For defense against TBMs, cruise missiles or aircraft, absolutely nothing compares to the PAC-3 Missile."

The PAC-3 Missile is a high velocity, hit-to-kill missile and is the next generation Patriot missile being developed to provide increased capability against advanced theater ballistic missile, cruise missile and hostile aircraft. The PAC-3 Missile kills incoming targets by direct, body-to-body impact. The PAC-3 Missiles, when deployed in a Patriot battery, will significantly increase the Patriot system's firepower, since 16 PAC-3 Missiles load-out on a Patriot launcher, compared with four of the old Patriot missiles.(Lockheed Martin Photo)

Third Apache Longbow Battalion Certified Combat-Ready.
The third U.S. Army AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter battalion to be certified combat-ready has returned to its home base at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. The Apache Longbow battalion, which completed eight months of intensive training at Fort Hood, Texas, is equipped with 24 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, built by The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) in Mesa, Ariz. The Army's 1st Attack Helicopter Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), received its certification March 15 during ceremonies at Fort Hood.

The Army fielded its first combat-ready Apache Longbow battalion in October 1998 and the second in November 1999. To qualify, the men and women of the third Apache Longbow battalion completed a series of comprehensive classroom, flight and field exercises. Members of the unit underwent a rigorous field examination, which included three live-fire exercises and approximately 3,000 flight hours during the training program.

"Through this training experience the soldiers are learning first-hand that the capability of the Apache Longbow is extraordinary," said Lt. Col. Mark Jones, battalion commander of the 1-3rd Aviation Regiment.

The U.S. Army is modernizing its fleet of AH-64A Apaches into next-generation Apache Longbow helicopters, which link a wide range of avionics, electronics and weapons into one fully integrated weapon system. The Apache Longbow is 28 times more capable than the battle-proven AH-64A Apache, for years considered to be the world's best combat helicopter

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