Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR NOV 2014 Contents INNOVATIONS
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 04 | NOV 2014
The US Army Aviation and Missile Research Development
and Engineering Center, in conjunction with the Redstone
Test Center, has completed a test program demonstrating the
effectiveness of isobutanol, a bio-fuel commonly referred to
as alcohol to jet (ATJ), in two combat helicopters -- a UH-60A
Black Hawk and a CH-47D Chinook.
Tests were conducted as a part of a congressionally-
funded program to determine whether jet fuel made from
non-food stock corn could safely power rotary-wing aircraft
and perform to Army requirements.
The effort was part of a broader Department of Defense
strategy initiated in 2009 to reduce dependency upon fossil
fuels. ATJ-blends provide a renewable alternative to current
aviation fuels, and address the Army Energy Security Strategy
and Plans mandate that the US Army certify 100 per cent of
its air platforms on alternative/renewable fuels by 2016.
The tests consisted of ground runs of engines, ballistic
testing of fuel cells, chemical analysis of fuel, inspection
of engines and extensive flight tests. After all required
ground safety of flight tests were successfully completed in
2013, the first flight of an Army helicopter (a UH-60A Black
Hawk), using ATJ fuel occurred at Redstone Arsenal on 5
Bio-fuels are made from renewable sources, such as algae,
sugar, switch grass, plant oils and wood. Isobutanol is an
alcohol-based bio-fuel produced from non-food stock corn.
After refining, the ATJ is blended in a 50 per cent solution
with Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8). ATJ lacks aromatics, an essential
part of fuel needed to ensure that the seals within the fuel
system swell to prevent leakage. The tested ATJ, therefore,
cannot completely replace fossil fuels but could be used to
The Black Hawk was flown for more than 180 hours on
ATJ fuel, with flight tests concluding this year. According to
Aviation Engineering Directorate (AED) officials, there were
no unanticipated drops in engine performance and engine
inspections showed no apparent ill-effects caused by the
In the program's second phase, ground and flight tests are
being conducted utilising the ATJ with a CH-47 Chinook.
The first flight, which was also successful, occurred 15
September and continued through the end of October for a
total of 30 flight hours.
Upon completion, the AED will begin the process of
evaluation of both Black Hawk and Chinook data prior to
allowing an ATJ blend to become certified as a replacement
fuel for JP-8.
"From what we have heard to this point, flying with this fuel
blend hasn't given us any technical surprises," said George
Bobula, AED's Propulsion Division chief engineer. "In all
likelihood, this fuel blend will be incorporated into the jet fuel
specification for [US] Army use."
-- Mario Attopardi
to develop advanced
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office has selected
Northrop Grumman to develop and demonstrate advanced
wideband digital antenna technology for next generation radio
frequency (RF) sensors using active electronically scanned
The US$11.9 million contract for Phase 1 of the Arrays on
Commercial Timescales (ACT) program seeks to develop the
key technologies for affordable, next-generation AESAs by
designing a reusable digital common module that contains the
critical integrated circuits required for follow-on AESAs.
ACT aims to significantly reduce the development and
manufacturing cost of future digital arrays through common
module reuse, high levels of integration and the application of
high-volume commercial complementary metal oxide semi-
conductor integrated circuit technology.
Central to the program, Northrop Grumman's wideband
digital common mission module is enabled by the application
of commercial system-on-chip technology with integrated
high speed data converters that allow for direct RF sampling.
Key sub-contractors on the Northrop Grumman ACT team
are Semtech and Systems & Technology Research.
Semtech will provide its disruptive ultra-high speed
analogue-to-digital converter technology, which incorporates
input bandwidth extending through the K-band. These data
converters, the company claims, provide increased flexibility
and functionality, reduced power and enhanced performance
over traditional architectures.
The non-linear digital signal processing algorithms from
Systems & Technology Research are able to extend the
dynamic range of analogue and mixed-signal systems by
several orders of magnitude at significantly reduced cost.
The UH-60A test aircraft in April 2014 running on bio-fuel.
Image: US Army
Links Archive DTR OCT 2014 DTR DEC JAN 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page