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by Gail Helmer

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Friday May 31, 2002

PC News
New Screens: WWII: D-day to Berlin
World War II: D-day to Berlin, aka, Frontline Command, is a squad-based action RTS game currently in development at The Bitmap Brothers' studio in East London. It will be the first action-RTS that will attempt to deliver a true recreation of the battlefield experience and portray the psychology of warfare, rather than "the sterile theory" of wargaming.

As a commander of Allied forces in Europe in the last year of World War II, players enter into combat with the Axis forces to drive the enemy back deep inside its own territory. While RTS games traditionally involve the player spending time concentrating on building, resourcing and preparation, World War II: D-day to Berlin's authentic troops are fully resourced with equipment from the start, enabling the player to concentrate on the battlefield.

Its single-player campaign game features 25 missions, starting with the initial Allied assault on June 6th 1944 and ending at Hitler's lair in mountainous southern Germany. The close of the campaign will see the player pitted against crack German Army units with experimental hardware.

Uniquely, the game incorporates the Frontline system, which creates a graphical on-screen representation of the player's units' morale, health and vision within the game. The unit morale system responds to the horrors and triumphs of war, providing for realistic and dramatic gameplay.

The Frontline system shows the real-time changes in a unit's morale. If morale is exceptionally high, the combat effectiveness will be raised substantially and make it easier to achieve current objectives.

If an individual's morale peaks, they may perform a heroic act, such as putting a grenade through an enemy bunker or pillbox. If morale is particularly low, the unit's combat effectiveness when fighting will drop accordingly. In the worst case scenario units will freeze in combat. However, a player can bolster morale by bringing battle-weary units back from the front lines or sending in reinforcements to help out.

World War II: D-day to Berlin's action is visualised in detailed 3D environments featuring collapsible buildings, deforming landscapes, fire and smoke effects, and excellent water effects.

World War II: D-day to Berlin is due to be published this autumn for PC. Screenshots

Microsoft Releases Beta Version 1 of DirectX 9.0
Microsoft Corp. announced the release of beta version 1 of the Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 API. Beta 1 features Microsoft’s new high-level shader language (HLSL), a powerful new programming model that offers the easiest-to-use graphics creation toolset for developers.

HLSL is based on the C programming language and introduces a developer-friendly programming environment that delivers simplicity and flexibility across the full range of 3-D graphics, from art creation to effects programming. HLSL is seamlessly integrated into and complemented by enhancements to Microsoft’s current developer toolset to give developers even more power from an easier-to-use solution. In addition, HLSL is compatible with DirectX-compliant graphics processing units (GPUs), allowing developers to define a similar visual effect for the widest range of graphics hardware.

DirectX 9.0 offers the following new benefits for developers:

  • High-level shader language library that supports patch meshes and traditional polygonal meshes
  • Improved real-time animation capabilities that allow separate animations on the same mesh to be blended
  • Enhanced low-level graphics programmability with new programmable vertex and pixel shader 2.0 models in the Direct3D® API
  • Full integration, including debugging, of new programmable shader models with the Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET development system
  • Enhanced DirectShow® video rendering hardware acceleration
  • A new version of DirectMusic® Producer, enabling support for DirectMusic enhancements such as low-latency playback
  • New wizards for creating DirectX Media Objects (DMOs) for audio effects and DirectMusic tools for MIDI processing
  • Improved DirectPlay® performance for multiplayer games
  • Availability of DirectPlay for Pocket PC 2002
Microsoft DirectX 9.0 beta 1 is now available at no charge to registered DirectX beta sites (connect-time fees may apply). The final release of the DirectX 9.0 Software Development Kit (SDK) and DirectX 9.0 runtime is scheduled for fall 2002.

Military News
MV-22 Resumes Flying, Exceeds Expectations
The MV-22 Osprey took to the skies here yesterday (May 29) for the first time since being grounded following a tragic mishap 17 months ago. The first MV-22 test aircraft to resume flying has improvements in its hydraulic and flight control software systems that make it practically a brand new aircraft and the safest Osprey yet, according to V-22 program officials.

"The long awaited return to flight was a success. The Osprey not only performed what today's test plan called for but exceeded our wildest expectations," said Col Dan Schultz, V-22 program manager. The flight plan called for the aircraft to take off, hover, and land. After successfully completing several vertical takeoffs, landings, and hovering maneuvers over the runway, the pilots conducted rearward and sideward flights to check the aircraft's maneuverability in helicopter mode. The pilots gradually built up maneuver speeds up and down the runway, went into landing pattern circuits and began conversion work.

Later in the afternoon, the Osprey's encore performance included a full conversion to airplane mode at level flight speeds of 250 knots. The Osprey logged nearly two and one half hours of flight time today and returned in full up flight status.

Tom MacDonald and Bill Leonard, senior Bell Boeing V-22 Integrated Test Team pilots, who have a combined total of 13,000 flight hours in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft and over 500 hours each in the MV-22, took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers to evaluate its handling and performance. Part of this series included converting out from helicopter to airplane mode to take standard vibration measurements to check out the tracking and balance of the individual blades of the two proprotors. This "test card" for the first flight series follows the Osprey's methodical and event driven approach to safely return the aircraft to flight testing.

"Along with everyone else on the V-22 test team, we are excited about being back in the flight test business. We are proud of the extensive safety and reliability enhancements to the Osprey's design, which was made possible by the concerted efforts of many people throughout the NAVAIR, Bell Boeing, Rolls Royce and supporting contractor teams," asserted MacDonald.

Leonard shares the excitement of being back in the air and moving forward with flight testing. "I'm dedicated to the concept and believe tilt rotor technology will be as important to aviation as the advent of the jet engine. This aircraft has potential that we in the aviation community have yet to understand let alone exploit. I've been actively engaged in military and civilian aviation for over 35 years, flown well over 100 different aircraft and truly believe that this technology, if exploited properly, will impact both civil and military aviation to an incredible degree," he said.

In preparation for today's flight, several days of aircraft ground runs and a systems checkout were conducted so both pilots would have further opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with the V-22 cockpit prior to the actual flight. "To ensure that no stone has been left unturned in our pursuit of safety and excellence, the entire process was structured and viewed by the V-22 Integrated Test Team as a true first flight, almost as if the aircraft had never flown before and was making its maiden flight," said MacDonald.

As part of the training for this flight, Macdonald and Leonard had a dress rehearsal simulation at the Manned Flight Simulator which allowed them to practice the first flight following the actual test cards and procedures developed for it with the telemetry room engineering team directing the flight and monitoring the progress and instrumentation in the control room.

Today's flight marks the beginning of an 18-month developmental flight test plan here that will validate the engineering and design changes made to the aircraft and continue with developmental testing that will further test such areas as vortex ring state boundaries, dynamic shipboard compatibility, formation flying, and low speed hovering and landing conditions. Other areas to be tested include the aircraft's icing, cargo handling and radar warning systems. A total of 1800 flight test hours are scheduled over this period of time using seven MV-22 aircraft.

First Production AIM-9X Handed To US Navy
The first production next-generation AIM-9X Sidewinder has been handed over to the US Navy by the manufacturer Raytheon, marking the beginning of an 18-year production plan to provide dogfight capabilities to pilots.

"Air-to-air tactics as they exist today will no longer be the same," said Capt. Dave Venlet, Naval Air Systems Command programme manager for Air-to-Air Missile Systems. "This is an advanced system design, which provides the warfighter with the firepower to ensure air superiority against any threat that exists today."

AIM-9X incorporates a fifth-generation staring focal plane array seeker for robust guidance performance and infrared countermeasures capability and jet vane control for extremely agile turning performance.

The AIM-9X's seeker has near instantaneous slew rates, and achieves extremely high off-boresight angles for threat acquisition and first shot opportunity. Pilots are no longer required to point the aircraft's nose at the target to employ this advanced weapon system.

AIM-9X has under gone an extensive flight testing programme, which has been complemented by an accredited modelling and simulation capability. The missile is fully reprogrammable in the field to allow for enhancements and growth in response to advances in threat capabilities.

The programme has had 18 successes in 19 guided flights and a total of 37 successes in 39 launches in less than two years.

The missiles being delivered today will be initially used for pilot training, and for at-sea and forward deployments within the next year. Initial operating capability for the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps is planned for the summer of 2003.

Luke F-16 Crashes May 29
A Luke F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed May 29 shortly after 5 p.m. at the Sells Military Operating Area in southwest Arizona. The pilot, Maj. David Walker, from the 56th Fighter Wing here, ejected safely and was taken to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., by the 308th Air Rescue Squadron. He was treated and is reported in good condition. At the time of the mishap, Walker was on a basic fighter maneuver training mission.

A board of officers will investigate the accident.

(Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

Doolittle Raider Dies
One of America’s first heroes of WWII died on Memorial Day of respiratory failure. Retired Air Force Col. Henry A. Potter navigated the lead aircraft in Jimmy Doolittle’s April 18, 1942, attack on Japan.

Though the raid did little damage militarily, its effect on morale was significant on both sides. For Americans, it marked the nation’s first offensive action following the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The raid stunned the Japanese, who felt their home islands were immune to attack. As a result, the Japanese pulled many units off the front lines and reserved them for defense.

A silver goblet, like the one shown, engraved with retired Air Force Col. Henry A. Potter’s name will be turned upside down at the next reunion of the Doolittle Raiders to mark his death.

Potter, born Sept. 22, 1918, in Pierre, S.D., was commissioned in July 1941 following completion of navigator training and was assigned to the 17th Bomb Group at Pendleton, Ore. Following four months of intense training, which featured short-field takeoffs and over-water navigation, Potter and his B-25 Mitchell bomber reported aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.

The plan was for the Hornet to maneuver to within 500 miles of Japan. Following the attack, the 16 land-based bombers would continue on into China to land at friendly airfields, from which they would continue operations against the Japanese.

Unfortunately, the Hornet was spotted by Japanese fishing boats and “Dootlittle’s Raiders” were forced to take off 250 miles farther from Japan than planned. With the limited range of the B-25, that meant the planes would not be able to reach their landing sites in Chuchow, China.

With (then-Lt. Col.) Doolittle at the controls, Potter’s bomber was the first to lift off the crowded carrier deck, bound for Tokyo. After dropping four incendiary bombs in a manufacturing area, Potter navigated his aircraft to an escape route over the North China Sea.

When the bomber finally ran out of fuel, the crew bailed out. Potter suffered the crew’s only injury -- a sprained ankle.

After rescue by Chinese troops, Potter eventually returned to the United States and the 17th BG. He completed a combat tour in North Africa, flying the B-26 Marauder, then finished the war as an instructor in B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators and B-29 Superfortresses. Potter retired from the Air Force in 1970, but remained active in the Confederate Air Force and the Doolittle Raider Association.

Surviving Raiders honor fallen comrades with a toast in a private ceremony at each annual Doolittle Raider reunion. According to tradition, a silver goblet engraved with Potter’s name will be turned upside down to mark his death. The goblets are kept on display at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., between reunions. Of the 80 goblets, 24 remain upright.

Comanche No 2 Flies With New Software And Engines
The RAH-66 Comanche Prototype No. 2 has made its first flight with a newly installed Mission Equipment Package (MEP) software and new engines. Prototype No. 2 was taken off flight status in May 2001 for installation of new LHTEC T-800-LHT-801 engines and for integration testing of the MEP. The MEP software provides the foundation aircraft operating system and supports the pilotage, vehicle systems reporting and health, and digital map functions of the Comanche.

The Comanche $3.2 billion Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract is being restructured to reduce programme risk. The Army has been told by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to consider "shifting resources" from the RAH-66 Comanche to other unspecified Army programmes because other programmes providing similar technologies may be available sooner. Department of Defense and Army leadership are scheduled to review the proposed EMD restructuring over the next few months. Overall, the Army has spent to date roughly $5.2 billion on the $47 billion Comanche programme.

The upgraded and improved LHTEC T-800-LHT-801 engines each provide uninstalled output of 1,563 shaft horsepower (1,165.5 kW), a 17 percent power increase over Comanche's earlier T800-LHT-800 engines. The 801 engines were first flown on Prototype No. 1 in June 2001. LHTEC (Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company) is a Rolls-Royce and Honeywell consortium.

Prototype No. 2 will continue in flight test this summer with near term objectives that include continued development of the core MEP functions, continued flight controls development work and night vision pilotage system development testing. Prototype No. 1 completed its test flight programme earlier this year and will serve as a backup aircraft for Prototype No. 2.

F-22 Raptor Fatigue Testing Passes First Milestone
The Lockheed Martin-led F-22 Raptor team passed another milestone in May with the successful completion of "first service-life" fatigue testing using a production quality, non-flyable Raptor airframe in a special ground-based laboratory at Marietta in Georgia. This testing is required for the programme to receive its Lot 3 production contract for 23 additional Raptors from the Pentagon later this year, and follows the completion of stress testing on Raptor 3999.

The airframe fatigue test is designed to demonstrate the F-22's durability over its planned service life of 20 years, or 8,000 flying hours. The test was conducted on Raptor 4000, one of two, non-flyable full-scale test airframes.

During the test, Raptor 4000 was stressed by nearly 200 hydraulic rams designed to simulate loads a flying F-22 might expect during operational use. Each lifetime equivalent of testing involves more than 1.2 million stress events simulating aircraft manoeuvres up to and including 9-g events. To enhance the fidelity of the testing, Raptor 4000's fuel tanks, inlet ducts, and cockpit were pressurised to remain consistent with the F-22's expected flight profiles.

"Successful completion of the first service-life of fatigue testinggives great confidence that the F-22 Raptor will provide the Air Force with a durable and rugged airframe capable of meeting the warfighter's needs," said Bob Rearden, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics vice president and F-22 programme general manager.

Fatigue testing of Aircraft 4000 will continue and is scheduled to simulate a total of two lifetimes of fatigue evaluation, the equivalent of 16,000 flight hours. The test article will be evaluated for damage tolerance involving up to another two lifetimes of test exposure. As a result, data accumulated from these tests could support long-term efforts to extend the F-22's usage beyond its intended 20-year service.

The Raptor is powered by Pratt and Whitney engines, and is made from parts and subsystems provided by approximately 1,200 subcontractors and suppliers in 46 states. Primary production activities take place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facilities in Marietta, and Fort Worth in Texas, as well as at Boeing's plant in Seattle. Final assembly and initial flight-testing of the Raptor occurs at the Marietta factory, headquarters for the F-22 industry team.

Kennedy's PT 109 May Be Found
The explorer who found the Titanic said Wednesday he will consult with experts over "promising" but "inconclusive" findings in the search for PT 109, the vessel commanded by John F. Kennedy during World War II.

Earlier Wednesday, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp. radio reported that Robert Ballard found the remains of the wooden patrol boat lying on the seabed in the Blackett Strait near Gizo in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Gizo is 235 miles northwest of the capital of the Solomons, Honiara.

The late president's boat went down after being attacked by a Japanese destroyer. Two men died when the boat was hit, but Kennedy saved an injured crewman by towing him through the sea for hours. [More...]

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