by Gail Helmer
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Interplay Considers Alternatives To Sale
Interplay Entertainment has announced that its discussions aimed at selling the company to a third-party suitor have been delayed indefinitely. After weeks of negotiation, Interplay is considering the possibility of a strategic partnership with its unnamed suitor. However, the company is currently considering the possibility of creating a strategic partnership with the unnamed third party. Interplay's hopes of selling the company outright were dashed when its primary shareholder, Titus Interactive, withdrew from negotiations to sell its stake in Interplay and chose to retain its 34 percent share in the company.
Soldier of Fortune II Website Launched
Raven Software has launced the official Website for Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix. The site includes some basic information on different aspects of the game, such as its levels, weapons, and detailed environments and player models. Soldier of Fortune II is the sequel to the popular first-person shooter, and it places players in the role of a mercenary sent out to infiltrate a terrorist organization that has developed a deadly biological weapon. Players have access to a wide assortment of weapons to take on the game's 10 missions, which are spread out across 70 different levels. Click here to check it out.
Northrop Grumman Awarded LHD 8 Contract
The U.S. Navy has awarded an additional $81.3 million to Ingalls Shipbuilding, a Northrop Grumman company, for the continuation of work towards the construction of an eighth WASP (LHD 1) Class large-deck multipurpose amphibious assault ship.
Seven of the ships, designed to carry some 2,000 U.S. Marines to world trouble spots, have already been delivered to the Navy by Ingalls, with six of them active in the fleet. USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7) was commissioned in Pensacola, Fla., June 30.
Under the contract modification, Ingalls will purchase materials and begin initial preparations for the construction of selected assemblies and subassemblies. Actual construction of ship assemblies will begin following completion of material procurement and previously funded design work. contract for full ship construction is expected in early 2002.
"This additional funding for Ingalls to continue preparing to build LHD 8 reflects the strong support for this ship by the Navy/Marine Corps team, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Congress," said Jerry St. Pé, chief operating officer of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS). "Keeping this funding stream active takes full advantage of the active production line at Ingalls, resulting in more efficient, more cost-effective production of the ship and savings of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars over the life of the procurement process for LHD 8," Mr. St. Pé said.
Thus far, Congress has appropriated a total of $880 million in design and material procurement funding for the LHD 8. This includes $460 million in a 2001 fiscal year defense appropriations measure passed last year, in addition to $420 million appropriated in the 1999 and 2000 fiscal years.
Ingalls President Dave Wright said work under the original contract has already begun, noting that this additional funding will fortify continued work towards the construction of the ship.
"This award is one more giant step toward an actual construction contract that will allow us to begin building this important ship in partnership with the Navy," said Mr. Wright.
As the large-deck centerpiece of a Navy/Marine Corps amphibious ready group, LHD's embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support a Marine expeditionary unit. The ships are fully capable of amphibious assault, advance force and special purpose operations, as well as noncombatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions. The ships are 844 feet long and displace 40,500 tons.
RAF Pilot Goes Vertical in JSF X-35B
Squadron Leader Justin Paines has become the first Royal Air Force pilot to evaluate the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing performance of the supersonic Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter X-35B. Paines, a Harrier pilot who was selected to test the X-35 demonstrator aircraft for the United Kingdom, roared into the air with a series of three hovers for a total of eight and a half minutes at the Lockheed Martin plant in Palmdale, Calif., on June 30.
"It was awesome. The aircraft performed flawlessly," Paines said. "The system produces an incredible amount of thrust, 15 or 20 tons of thrust, even here in the high desert in summer, and yet we can control that thrust with the precision required to maneuver the aircraft in the hover. "Apart from having to adhere to the upcoming flight-test phase, there was nothing that would have stopped me accelerating away to supersonic speed with the same aircraft."
Of the three pilots who have flown the short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, two are citizens of the United Kingdom: Paines and Chief Test Pilot Simon Hargreaves of BAE SYSTEMS. The third, Maj. Art Tomassetti, is a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier pilot.
The X-35B is designed to fulfill performance requirements for the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and U.S. Marines. It made its first vertical takeoff and vertical landing on June 23, becoming the first JSF demonstrator to achieve those milestones. Since then it has hovered numerous times at up to 50 feet above the ground, and will begin transitions from conventional flight to hover in the coming weeks.
The X-35B features a unique propulsion system in which a drive shaft from the Pratt & Whitney JSF119-611 engine turns a counterrotating lift fan that produces cool-air lifting force during STOVL operations. The Rolls-Royce fan, actuated by a clutch that can be engaged at any power setting, works in concert with an articulating rear duct and under-wing lateral-control nozzles to lift the aircraft with nearly 40,000 pounds of vertical force. Because the fan amplifies the engine's power, the engine is able to run cooler and with less strain, increasing reliability and extending service life. The lift fan provides the propulsion system with about 10,000 pounds more thrust than the engine alone could generate.
"The incredible operational capability foreseen for JSF, coupled with JSF's low cost and with the flexibility of STOVL operations, will be an unbeatable military asset," Paines said. "JSF is the fighter program to top all others. I am proud of the technical contribution the U.K. has made to the program and mighty relieved that the U.K. is a part of it!"
The Lockheed Martin team approach to the STOVL flight-test program is based on fielding and flying a demonstrator that solves the marginal thrust levels associated with direct-lift STOVL aircraft, so that both technical risk and cost are reduced before the JSF's production phase.
Advanced manufacturing methods already demonstrated by the Lockheed Martin JSF team will reduce manufacturing time by 66 percent and manufacturing costs by more than 50 percent over legacy fighter aircraft.
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