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by Gail Helmer

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Wednesday November 27, 2002

PC News
Cossacks: Back to War Ships
CDV has announced the release of Cossacks: Back to War, that includes the original Cossacks game, the expansion, and some new features. Back to War has two new playable nations, Switzerland and Hungary, and new single-player missions. It also adds some new elements to online play, notably a spectator feature that allows players to watch online games in progress and an automatic player-matching system for ranked matches.

Hearts of Iron Ships
Strategy First and Paradox Entertainment have announced that, Hearts of Iron¸ the World War II grand strategic game, has shipped to retail stores nationwide. Hearts of Iron covers the entire period of the War from 1936 to 1948, rather than fragmented periods, and offers a historically accurate rendering of that monumental decade. Players can bring the battle to any front they choose and must use a combination of diplomacy, strategy and combat to overcome their enemies and lead their country to victory. On top of all this, there are hundreds of hours of gameplay to be found and players can optimize their fun with multiplayer support over LAN or Internet. For more information on Hearts of Iron, check out our preview coverage of the game.

Battlefield 1942 1.2 Update
Rumor has it that the version 1.2 update for Battlefield 1942 is now in final testing and will soon be released. The update addresses a variety of gameplay issues, but its main focus is on increasing the game's frame rate and improving the hit detection for handheld weapons. The patch will also include some minor gameplay tweaks and miscellaneous graphical fixes. Stay tuned for word on the update's release.

Military News
World's Most Sophisticated Simulation System Unveiled
The world's largest and most sophisticated simulation system was unveiled to the media today by UK Minister for the Armed Forces, Adam Ingram. The Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (CATT), designed and built by Lockheed Martin, will revolutionize armored battlegroup warfare simulation. It consists of a highly advanced, networked suite of nearly 170 combat vehicle simulators -- covering an area equivalent in size to three soccer fields -- in which 700 troops and commanders or more will be able to hone their battle skills prior to undertaking live training in the field. The CATT is the only simulation system capable of networking this number of devices for a single training activity. While other networked systems exist, none is capable of training on such a grand scale.

The simulator, worth 250 million pounds sterling, is located at two facilities in purpose-built simulator halls -- one in Warminster, England; the other in Sennelager, Germany. The CATT simulators faithfully replicate the interiors of UK armored vehicles such as Challenger II main battle tanks, Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Scimitar armored reconnaissance vehicles. Soldiers can train against other soldiers in simulators or they can engage computer-generated forces. Following an exercise, the entire battle can be replayed in a lecture theatre for post-exercise analysis and assessment for After Action Review (AAR).

Adam Ingram, Minister for the Armed Forces, said: "This state-of-the-art simulator network provides an unprecedented level of reality -- soldiers say the only thing missing is the smell of cordite. While it is no substitute for exercises in the field, CATT ensures that our forces go into live training better prepared.

"And with CATT, the Army can train under any conditions almost anywhere in the world at the flick of a switch -- without environmental impact on training sites or the cost of moving men and equipment over long distances."

Realism is the key to CATT's success and it gives the British Army the ability to train to levels previously unachievable. The interiors of the vehicles are replicated in detail, all interconnected by a Wide Area Network linking the two sites together to create a single virtual world, where the actual players are in fact hundreds of miles apart. The terrain database itself accurately replicates an area of 35,000 square kilometers, with areas such as Salisbury Plain, Northern Europe and a generic desert location being reproduced. The system generates a level of fidelity that enables trainees and Commanders to use real world topographical maps and intelligence data in mission rehearsal.

Battlegroup training is becoming increasingly more difficult to plan and manage. Bringing together many hundreds of vehicles and people for field exercises requires months of careful planning, great expanses of real estate and enormous cost. With CATT, exercise planners and commanders need not worry about environmental pressures, manpower demands or even requests for costly external assets and, of course, the system enables repeat training to perfect skills and tactics.

CATT will allow many other simulators to be integrated, thus creating a complete three-dimensional virtual battlespace. Other synthetic training systems, which might be linked to it in future, include: Medium Support Helicopter; Hawk Synthetic Training; Close Air Defence Detachment Engagement Trainer and the Apache Attack Helicopter trainer.

F/A-22 Raptor Meets Flight Test Goal
The Lockheed Martin -led F/A-22 Raptor air dominance fighter program team successfully launched an unarmed, short-range, heat-seeking AIM-9M missile against an aerial target on Nov. 22, completing all four Pentagon-mandated flight test goals for the year 2002. F/A-22 developmental flight-test activities continue at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in support of the timely start of Dedicated Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (DIOTE) in 2003.

The test took place above the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, with Lockheed Martin F/A-22 test pilot James "JB" Brown III flying Raptor 4007. While supercruising -- flying at supersonic speeds without using fuel-guzzling afterburners -- at 24,000 feet, the pilot positioned his Raptor to fire on a supersonic QF-4 unmanned drone flying at 14,000 feet, several miles directly ahead of the aircraft. After launch, the missile was able to track the target and pass close enough to it that had the missile been armed with a live warhead, the missile would have detonated. This demonstrated the Raptor's short-range missile targeting and launch support capabilities.

"This was the first of two targeted live fire tests the F/A-22 program will conduct involving the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. The second AIM-9 missile launch test is scheduled for next year," said Rick Salazar, Avionics/Armament flight-test lead at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. "Though scripted for test, this front-quarter, look-down shot is typical of those that can occur in an operational scenario, and is another step forward toward 'sharpening the talons' of the Raptor."

This test demonstrated the Raptor's unique "auto-doors" capability, which opens the F/A-22's side weapons bay doors and extends the AIM-9 missile into the slipstream once it is within range of a target. This capability also retracts the missile and closes the doors if the missile is not launched, once the target is out of the missile's range. This auto-door function helps to minimize the aircraft's exposure to enemy radar and "preserves the aircraft's stealthiness," Salazar added.

Another notable achievement demonstrated for the first time during this test was the F/A-22 Combined Test Force's ability to remotely monitor this New Mexico-based missile launch from its control rooms at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

This AIM-9 missile launch satisfies the last of four Pentagon-mandated flight-test goals the program had to accomplish by the end of 2002.

V-22 Starts High Rate of Descent Testing
The V-22 Osprey Integrated Test Team (ITT) commenced Phase I of the high rate of descent (HROD) test plan Nov. 25, completing 13 test points over the course of two back-to-back sorties.

The ITT is using Aircraft No. 8, one of four Ospreys in the current test inventory, exclusively for the HROD testing.

Aircraft No. 8 has been specially instrumented and wired to provide crucial feedback to pilots and engineers during the series of flights designed to ultimately give fleet pilots the confidence to exploit the V-22’s unique maneuvering capabilities.

“There were no big surprises,” said Steve Grohsmeyer, test co-pilot for the initial HROD events. “The airplane behaved very nicely.”

“Overall, it was a good start,” added Tom Macdonald, ITT chief test pilot and test pilot for the flights. “The test team worked hard and allowed us to get a lot done today.”

While the team has taken a methodical and safe approach toward the HROD plan, Grohsmeyer explained that the first flights were by no means “baby steps.”

“Already, we’re hitting rates of descent that are well beyond where we expect fleet pilots to go,” he said. “We’re going to give the average tiltrotor aviator plenty of space to do what he needs to do in any operational environment.”

The HROD test plan is divided into two phases: Phase I will clear the “placarded” envelope – no greater than 800 feet-per-minute rate of descent combined with a forward speed of less than 40 knots – for the fleet’s return to flight in the fall of 2003.

Phase II is designed to be the more experimental portion of the plan that will fully explore the Osprey’s flight envelope, including the tiltrotor’s characteristics with regard to vortex ring state, an aerodynamic phenomenon that affects all rotorcraft. Although the test plan is driven by events and not time, Fred Madenwald, ITT contract flight test director, estimated Phase I would be complete by late February.

Ray King, test director for Aircraft No. 8, summed up the first day’s accomplishments in the flight debrief.

“Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we’re well underway with the HROD test plan,” he said.

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