Friday, March 11, 2022

ATF reviewing unmanned aircraft systems for the future

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is presently conducting a review of the agency's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and planning for future requirements. The review was announced in a Request For Information (RFI) contract document released Thursday.

The RFI was issued solely for market research, compiling information of available UAS sources and planning purposes. “It does not constitute an Invitation for Bids, Request for Proposal, or Request for Quotes,” the ATF said in the RFI.

The ATF is a law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice whose headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. The mission of ATF is to protect communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.

Information provided in response to the RFI must be submitted to ATF contract officers no later than March 28.

In 2015, the ATF spent “approximately $600,000” on drones it never flew operationally, according to an audit conducted by a Justice Department watchdog.

The Department of Justice’s five law enforcement operational components conducted 248 UAS deployments during fiscal year 2020. All totaled, the components recorded approximately 172 hours and 59 minutes of flight time.

The general types or categories of missions flown include the following: authorized investigations, fugitive apprehension, communications support, search and rescue, site survey, counter-UAS testing and training, crime scene examination, mapping, reconnaissance of remote geographical areas, force protection and officer safety during service of warrants, demonstration flights, UAS and Counter-UAS testing and training, and production of component training videos.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Engine overhauls ordered for Navy C-40A aircraft fleet

The Naval Air Systems Command, Tactical Airlift Program Office, Patuxent River, Md., is conducting market research to identify potential business sources with the resources, capabilities, and experience to successfully perform multiple C-40A engine overhauls beginning as early as 2025 and occurring over a three to five year period.

The C-40A aircraft is a Boeing 737-700C commercial-derivative cargo/transport/Extended Range Twin Engine Operations aircraft that is operated by the U.S. Navy and soon to be operated by the U.S. Marine Corps. The aircraft are equipped with CFM56-7B24 engines and have been modified with government unique items with supplement type certifications.

“At this time, the government anticipates 10 – 20 engine overhauls will be required over a three to five year period,” Navy officials said in contract documents. “Overhaul turn-around-time shall be 120 days between shipping to and shipping from the vendor.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Radian Aerospace secures $27.5 million in funding to develop spaceplane

Radian Aerospace, developer of a fully reusable horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane, announced Wednesday that the company recently closed $27.5 million in seed funding. The recent round was led by Fine Structure Ventures, a venture capital fund.

The Radian spaceplane will “fill the efficiency and capability gaps that exist with traditional vertical rockets,” the company said in a press release. The vehicle will be capable of a wide range of space operations including the delivery of people and light cargo to low earth orbit with aircraft-like operations.

"To date, a low cost space transport solution has been lacking that can get humans and cargo to and from space at a highly responsive rate," said Brett Rome, venture partner at Fine Structure Ventures. "Radian is well positioned to fill that gap with disruptive technology that helps enable the emerging space economy."

The ability to fly to space, perform a mission, return, refuel, and fly again almost immediately enables in-space and terrestrial missions that are simply not possible with traditional vehicles, the company said.

"Wings offer capabilities and mission types that are simply not possible with traditional vertical takeoff right circular cylinder rockets," said Livingston Holder, Radian's co-founder and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing. "What we are doing is hard, but it's no longer impossible thanks to significant advancements in materials science, miniaturization, and manufacturing technologies.”

“We are not focused on tourism, we are dedicated to missions that make life better on our own planet, like research, in-space manufacturing, and terrestrial observation, as well as critical new missions like rapid global delivery right here on Earth," said Richard Humphrey, CEO and co-founder of Radian.

The company already has launch service agreements with commercial space stations, in-space manufacturers, satellite, and cargo companies, as well as agreements with the U.S. government and selected foreign governments.

"We're talking about materially enabling an industry that's expected to grow to $1.4 trillion in less than a decade,” said Doug Greenlaw, a former chief executive of Lockheed Martin and one of Radian's investors and strategic advisors.

The addressable commercial market opportunity for Radian's disruptive launch vehicle is estimated to be $200 billion, the company said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Third test flight for massive Stratolaunch experimental aircraft

Stratolaunch LLC is excited to announce the successful completion of its third Roc carrier aircraft test flight on Sunday. Roc is the world's largest aircraft, with a 385-foot wingspan.

The aircraft took off at 11:47 a.m. EST and flew for 4 hours, 23 minutes over the Mojave Desert in California. It reached an altitude of 23,500 feet at an indicated air speed of 180 knots. This flight further prepared the carrier aircraft to support launches of its upcoming hypersonic testbed vehicle, Talon-A.

Launched from the Roc carrier aircraft, Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

"We will take the data we gathered and continue to advance the aircraft's operational performance to support hypersonic testing in 2022,” said Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch president and chief operating officer in a company press release.

"The partial gear retraction seen during the flight is a graduated approach to building confidence in the landing gear and gear door hardware. Testing the left main landing gear individually mitigated risk and provided our aircrew with options for landing the aircraft in the event the hardware didn't perform as expected," Krevor said. "We'll review the data and determine when we can get back into the air to continue advancing our unique, hypersonic architecture."

The test flight included a low approach maneuver over the Mojave Air and Space Port.

In addition to testing the carrier aircraft, the team continues to make incredible strides in building its first two Talon-A test vehicles, TA-0 and TA-1. TA-1 completed its initial power-on testing in late December, keeping the company on track to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and to deliver services to government and commercial customers in 2023.

Stratolaunch's mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Newly delivered Coast Guard aircraft ready to be 'missionize'

The U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Long Range Surveillance (LRS) aircraft acquisition program office has a requirement to “missionize” up to six newly delivered HC-130J LRS aircraft via the installation of the Minotaur Mission System Suite and the C-130J Block Upgrade 8.1.

The Minotaur system incorporates sensors; radar; and command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and enables aircrews to gather and process surveillance information that can be transmitted to other platforms and units during flight.

“The services will be competitively procured on an unrestricted basis via a noncommercial firm-fixed-price contract,” Coast Guard officials said in contract documents released this week.

The Coast Guard accepted its 14th mission-ready HC-130J Super Hercules long range surveillance aircraft Oct. 27 from L3Harris Technologies in Waco, Texas.

The Coast Guard currently has 18 HC-130J aircraft in either operational use or active production.

The Coast Guard’s fleet of HC-130Js is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) largest airlift asset, providing critical support to DHS partners as well as carrying out many Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, cargo and personnel transport, and maritime stewardship. The aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

PointsBet now live in Virginia, 11 sportsbooks available in the state

Online gaming operator PointsBet launched its sports betting app in Virginia on Wednesday. Virginia marks the eighth state for PointsBet, following successful launches in New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, and West Virginia.

PointsBet started running ads over the Internet and TV promising to go live in Virginia since July, before they even had a temporary permit to operate in the state. PointsBet finally received a temporary permit from the Virginia Lottery on Nov. 22.

"I am excited to welcome PointsBet to my home state," said PointsBet brand ambassador Allen Iverson, former professional basketball player for 14 seasons.

Colonial Downs partnership

"We are thrilled to be launching in Virginia with our partner Colonial Downs," said PointBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken in a company press release.

The Virginia Lottery issued PointsBet, together with racetrack Colonial Downs, an official supplier license to offer online sports wagering in Virginia. Colonial Downs, a subsidiary of California-based Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, is a gaming company operating and headquartered in Virginia. The company operates Rosie's Gaming Emporiums in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, Dumfries and Collinsville, Va., as well as Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent.

Colonial Downs Group employs more than 1,000 team members in the Commonwealth of Virginia, paying over $30 million in annual salaries, wages, and benefits.

Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – Secretariat Turf Course and a dirt track.

The company pays more than $32 million in annual state and local taxes plus an additional $12 million in racing industry payments annually.

Special offer for Virginia bettors

To help celebrate launch, PointsBet will provide Virginia clients with a very special "Bet & Get" offer. Across five tiers, users will earn 10% of their cumulative wagers in Free Bets during the month of December. Bettors wagering $500 in cumulative bets during December will earn a $50 Free Bet - $1,000 a $100 Free Bet - $2,500 a $250 Free Bet - $5,000 a $500 Free Bet - $10,000 a $1,000 Free Bet.

NBC Sports

As the official exclusive sports betting partner of NBC Sports, PointsBet will utilize the media giant's premium television and digital assets to promote the PointsBet brand in the state of Virginia. The sportsbook has already been integrated into NBC Sports Regional Networks, like NBC Sports Washington, appearing regularly on programming for the Washington Football Team, Wizards, and Capitals.