Flash Gordon Left Me The Keys


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Nuclear Weapons

Iran has moved to the top of the IAEA's 16 June 2003 Board of Governors meeting agenda, with the expection that the agency's chief, Mohammed ElBaradei will report that the Islamic Republic is not in compliance with the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran's nuclear program began in the Shah's era, including a plan to build 20 nuclear power reactors. Two power reactors in Bushehr, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, were started but remained unfinished when they were bombed and damaged by the Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq war. Following the revolution in 1979, all nuclear activity was suspended, though subsequently work was resumed on a somewhat more modest scale. Current plans extend to the construction of 15 power reactors and two research reactors. Research and development efforts also were conducted by the Shah's regime on fissile material production, although these efforts were halted during the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.

Iran ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970, and since February 1992 has allowed the IAEA to inspect any of its nuclear facilities. Prior to 2003 no IAEA inspections had revealed Tehran's violations of the NPT.

In a statement to the US public made 07 January 1998 and broadcast by Cable News Network, President Sayed Mohamad Khatami said, "we are not a nuclear power and do not intend to become one. We have accepted IAEA safeguards and our facilities are routinely inspected by that agency." But some western observers asserted that Khatami, a moderate cleric elected president of Iran in May 1997, had not taken charge of Iran's nuclear development program. Despite Khatami's emergence as a political figure, developments suggested that he was not in control of the military and security sphere.

Since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Tehran redoubled its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles. In addition to Iran's legitimate efforts to develop its nuclear power-generation industry, it is believed to be operating a parallel clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iran appears to be following a policy of complying with the NPT and building its nuclear power program in such a way that if the appropriate political decision is made, know-how gained in the peaceful sphere (specialists and equipment) could be used to create nuclear weapons.

Iran does not currently have nuclear weapons, and Iranians officials generally deny that they are engaged in developing a military nuclear capability. However, in a February 1987 address to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, President Ali Khamene'i stated:

"Regarding atomic energy, we need it now... Our nation has always been threatened from outside. The least we can do to face this danger is to let our enemies know that we can defend ourselves. Therefore, every step you take here is in defense of your country and your evolution. With this in mind, you should work hard and at great speed." [SOURCE]
Unclassified assessments based on Iran's known nuclear infrastructure reflect a technology and production base inadequate to the task of producing nuclear weapons for many years. In April 1984, West German intelligence sources leaked reports to the press that Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program was so far advanced that it would be capable of producing a bomb "within two years" but these reports turned out to be greatly exaggerated.

The present condition of industrial potential is such that without outside help, Iran is unable to organize production of weapons-grade nuclear materials. Iran is trying to acquire fissile material to support development of nuclear weapons, and is attempting to develop the capability to produce both plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

In an attempt to shorten the timeline to a weapon, Iran has launched a parallel effort to purchase fissile material, mainly from sources in the former Soviet Union. There are no convincing reports of any illegal deliveries of nuclear raw materials or nuclear fuel to Iran. Persistent media reports dating back to 1991 concerning four nuclear warheads which Tehran supposedly bought from Kazakhstan remain unconfirmed.

In his 2002 book, The High Cost of Peace: How Washington’s Middle East Policy Left America Vulnerable to Terrorism, author Yossef Bodansky claimed: "In December [1991], the Kazakh deal came to fruition, and Iran made its first purchase of nuclear weapons. The deal included two 40-kiloton warheads for a Scud-type surface-to-surface ballistic missile; one aerial bomb of the type carried by a MiG-27; and one 152mm nuclear artillery shell. These weapons reached initial operational status in late January 1992 and full operational status a few months later."

It is generally believed that Iran's efforts are focused on uranium enrichment, though there are some indications of work on a parallel plutonium effort. Iran claims it is trying to establish a complete nuclear fuel cycle to support a civilian energy program, but this same fuel cycle would be applicable to a nuclear weapons development program. Iran appears to have spread their nuclear activities around a number of sites to reduce the risk of detection or attack.

Iran continues to aggressively pursue nuclear technology from both Western and Eastern sources. Russia and China are providing assistance in developing nuclear energy capabilities. Since the early 1990's Iranians has been purchasing dual-use nuclear equipment from Europe, China, Russia and third world countries. Some of this equipment could be used to enrich uranium which could be used for nuclear weapon development. Iran has also made extensive efforts in training nuclear personnel in Iran itself and in western universities.

Israel and the United States believed in 1992 that Iran would attain a military nuclear capability within eight to 10 years. In 1995 ACDA Director John Holum testified that Iran could have the bomb by 2003, though by 1997 he testified that Iran could have the bomb by 2005-2007. In the mid-1990's the view of the United States government was that Iran was implementing a military nuclear program that could achieve a weapons capability within five years, that is, by the year 2000. As of 1998 the estimate of the US Central Command was that Iranian efforts could result in the development of a nuclear device by the middle of the next decade, that is, by the year 2005.

In January 2000, marking a significant departure from previous assessments, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Iran might now be able to make a nuclear weapon. This evaluation was not based on evidence that Iran's efforts had achieved a breakthrough, but rather on the fact that the United States cannot track with great certainty increased efforts by Iran to acquire nuclear materials and technology. Analysts at other intelligence agencies believed that Iran's efforts were still moving slowly.

The representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Washington, D.C., revealed on Wednesday, 14 August 2002, two top-secret nuclear sites in Iran and the clerical regime’s new nuclear, biological and chemical weapons projects at a press conference in Washington, DC. On the surface, the Iranian regime’s main nuclear activities are focused on Bushehr’s nuclear power plant, but in reality secret nuclear programs are at work without the knowledge of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). One of these top secret projects is Natanz’s nuclear facility. Natanz is about 100 miles north of Isfahan. The other one is Arak’s atomic facilities. Arak is a city in central Iran, 150 miles south of Tehran.

Two sites, near the cities of Natanz and Arak south of Tehran, appear designed to help produce enriched uranium or plutonium, the fissile material needed for nuclear weapons. Until the facilities were revealed in August 2002 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the Iranian government had not disclosed their existence to the IAEA. Their existence suggests Iran has other secret nuclear facilities.

Tehran's international debt exceeds $30 billion, although oil price increases in 1996 may have relieved the pressure at least temporarily. Despite severe economic distress, Iran's use of limited funds to procure new conventional weapons and develop weapons of mass destruction reveals a commitment to achieve Gulf preeminence. Russia, China, and North Korea support the effort by selling T-72 tanks, Kilo-class submarines, and ballistic missiles. Purchases of submarines and modern missile patrol boats, combined with reinforcement of the southern Arabian Gulf islands, bolster the Iranian navy's ability to interdict strategic sea-lines-of-communication and impose its control over these critical shipping passages. In the early 1990s it appeared that Iran planned to invest considerable resources in military procurement, including establishment of a new and larger air force, a new armored corps, and a revamped artillery corps. What actually happened was far below the predictions. Air force modernization with new Russian planes has taken place in modest numbers. The acquisition of several hundred new tanks left Iran in an inferior position relative to Iraq.

The economic situation in Iran has constrained the funding of military improvements generally, and may have constrained Iran's nuclear weapons plans. American counter-proliferation efforts have also limited Iran's options. The US has imposed sanctions prohibiting trade and investment in Iran. Tehran has attempted to portray US containment efforts as unjust, in an attempt to convince European or Asian suppliers to relax export restrictions on key technologies. Foreign suppliers have been discouraged by the risk of sanctions or political embarrassment because of US-led containment efforts.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said during a 13 December 2002 State Department briefing that the United States has "reached the conclusion that Iran is actively working to develop nuclear-weapons capability." Boucher discussed the construction of a heavy-water facility at Arak and a possible uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz. Boucher also stated that, "there is no economic gain for a state that's rich in oil and gas like Iran to build costly nuclear fuel-cycle facilities. I would point out that Iran flares more gas annually than the equivalent energy its desired reactors would produce" (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 16 December 2002).

Iranian Vice President for Atomic Energy Qolam-Reza Aqazadeh-Khoi on 17 December 2002 rejected US accusations that Iran is trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Aqazadeh said that only the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is legally authorized to deal with nuclear issues. The previous day, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran does not intend to build nuclear weapons and that all its efforts in the nuclear-energy sphere have peaceful objectives.

President Mohammad Khatami on 18 December 2002 rejected US allegations that Iran is developing a nuclear-weapons capability, IRNA reported. Khatami said that the allegations are baseless and that Iran is in compliance with international standards. Khatami said, according to IRNA, "Iran is working under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Iran is a signatory to the [Nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty and does not seek nuclear arms."

Brigadier General Nasser Mohammadifar, the commander of the Iranian Army's ground forces, said during a 19 December 2002 ceremony to post the 38th independent armored brigade at Torbat-i Jam's Mohammad Rasulallah garrison that Iran does not intend to the use the nuclear facility it is building in Bushehr for military purposes. Mohammadifar added, "Iran will never pursue the manufacture, purchase, or use of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional arms."

The IAEA announced that its secretary-general, Muhammad al-Baradei, would visit Iran on 25 February, Iranian state radio reported on 19 December 2002. According to previous reports, Tehran had postponed al-Baradei's visit several times despite a February 10 announcement that there would be no limit to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) ability to conduct inspections in Iran, and he denied that Iran plans to use nuclear technology for military purposes, IRNA reported on 11 February.

The IAEA team led by ElBaradei which visited Iran in February 2003 detected that Iran had introduced some uranium hexafluoride into the gas centrifuges, which would be a clear breach of the NPT.

President Mohammad Khatami said on 09 February 2003 that the Islamic Republic of Iran had decided to utilize advanced technology including those in the nuclear industry for peaceful purposes. He said that the government has adopted plans to exploit the uranium mines 200 km off Yazd and set up plants in Isfahan and Kashan to extract uranium composites to provide fuel for generating electricity. President Khatami said that his government has decided to generate some 6,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy adding that Bushehr power plant has been designed to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. President Khatami's admission of Iranian uranium mining came only two weeks before the 25 February 2003 visit to Iran of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Director General, Dr. ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency experts.

Iran's admission that it had been mining uranium, when Russia had agreed to provide all the uranium fuel for lifetime of the Bushehr reactor, raised serious questions about Iran's supposedly peaceful nuclear program. Some accounts of the Khatami remarks said he also asserted that Iran planned to reprocess spent fuel from Bushehr. If press reports suggesting that Iran will reprocess spent fuel were accurate, this would directly contradict Iran's agreement with Russia to return all of the spent fuel to Russia.

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Deputy Director Assadollah Saburi said on 11 March 2003 that Iran had not agreed to sign the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows unannounced inspections of nuclear facilities, because it would impose new limits. Saburi explained, "We do not want to increase our commitments in the face of sanctions that are currently imposed on us for obtaining nuclear technology." Saburi said, however, that Iran has agreed to notify the IAEA before it begins any other nuclear facility. Iranian Atomic Energy Organization chief Qolamreza Aqazadeh-Khoi added that Western countries must drop sanctions against Iran before its signs the additional protocol. [SOURCE]

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said during his visit to Tehran that he had seen progress in Iran on the nuclear issue and called on Tehran to "continue confidence-building measures" on its nuclear program, AFP reported on 24 April 2003. De Villepin welcomed public assurances from Iranian President Khatami that the country is not seeking to develop nuclear arms and is acquiring nuclear power for peaceful purposes only, but said in a joint press conference with his counterpart Kamal Kharrazi that Iran should go one step further by signing the additional protocol of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. IAEA Director-General Mohammad el-Baradei had urged Iran, which is currently only subject to inspections of sites it has already declared, to sign the protocol allowing unlimited and surprise inspections by international experts of any suspect sites. Khatami's response was not very positive. After meeting with de Villepin, his office said in a statement "Why do countries possessing such (civilian atomic energy) technology not respect the principles of the nonproliferation treaty by not helping us in turn to acquire it?"

The IAEA Director General issued a report to the 35 Member States of the Board of Governors on nuclear safeguards in Iran. The report was issued on 06 June 2003,in advance of a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors to commence on 16 June 2003 in Vienna, at which the issue is to be considered. The IAEA report was released on 19 June 2003 and states that "Iran has failed to meet it's obligations under the Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material, the subsequent processing and sue of that material and the declaration of facilities where the material was stored and processed."[SOURCE]

As a result, the Agency is continuing to pursue their investigation into Iran's enrichment capabilities, requiring Iran to submit to a complete chronology of its centrifuge and laser enrichment efforts, in particular, a description of all research and development activities carried out before the construction of the Natanaz facilities. In addition, the IAEA will follow-up allegations concerning undeclared enrichment of nuclear material, in particular, at the Kalaye Electric Company. Further inquiries about Iran's heavy water program, including heavy water production and heavy water reactor design and construction.

Un-named individuals have provided the IAEA with designs for Iran's gas centrifuges. The blueprints depict a centrifuge nearly identical to the machine used by Pakistan in the early years of its nuclear program. The plans and components were acquired by Iran in several installments in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s.

Contrary to the requirements of the NPT, Iran did not report the acquisition and processing of 1.8 tons of natural uranium, and their storage in a facility that was hitherto unknown to the IAEA. The uranium was purchased from China as early as 1991, but Iran admitted making the purchase only during El Baradei's visit in February 2003. The yield was a small amount of low-grade uranium -- only 0.29 pounds -- while a nuclear weapon would require about 40 pounds of highly enriched uranium.

The IAEA found two different types of HEU in Iran. Iran has tried to explain away that finding with a belated admission that its senior officials erred in repeatedly telling the Agency, the Board and the world that the Iranian centrifuge enrichment program was wholly indigenous. Instead, the Agency is now told, Iran must have acquired "contaminated" centrifuge components from previously unacknowledged foreign sources. In light of prior revisions in Iran’s explanation of its program, this new assertion clearly must be examined with great care to establish whether the particles that were discovered reflect enrichment activities outside Iran, within the country, or both.

On 05 June 2003 Thursday Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said in an interview with Russian daily Izvestia that Iran will acquire weapons of mass destruction by 2006. "Iran will possess weapons of mass destruction at the end of 2005 or early in 2006. This greatly concerns Israel and I think, should concern Russia," Shalom said, without giving any further details.

In its June 6, 2003 report on the Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in Iran, the Director General encouraged Iran to conclude an Additional Protocol. Without such protocols in force, the Agency's ability to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear activities would be limited.

According to the 06 June 2003 IAEA report, the Iranian authorities provided information about their heavy water reactor program consisting of the heavy water production plant currently under construction at Arak and the 40 Mw(th) IR-40 construction which is planned to start at Arak in 2004. The stated purposes of the IR-40, whcih will use UO2 fuel and heavy water (both as a coolant and as a moderator), are reactor research and development, radiotope production and training.

While Iran has denied having any program to develop nuclear weapons, the IAEA has collected evidence to the contrary. The most recent report was issued 10 November 2003. The United States, which accused Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons, wanted the matter taken before the UN Security Council for possible punitive action. But Britain, Germany, and France said their policy of constructive engagement with Iran is beginning to bear fruit.

On 21 November 2003 the IAEA accepted Iran's proposal to sign on to an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that allows for unannounced inspections of its facilities.

The 10 November 2003 document , says US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, "should lay to rest any concerns about what's going on in Iran" ... The IAEA report made clear that the Iranians have been concealing, that they've not been truthful in the past. And I think the issue now is, are they going to be truthful in the future? Are they going to come clean about what had been going on in Iran? Are they going to agree to verification measures and protocols that give the international community some confidence, given that they weren't transparent in the past, that they're going to be transparent in the future?"

The resolution adopted by the IAEA Board on 26 November 2003 "Strongly deplores Iran’s past failures and breaches of its obligation to comply with the provisions of its Safeguards Agreement, as reported by the Director General; and urges Iran to adhere strictly to its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement in both letter and spirit." Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States was "very satisfied" with the resolution deploring Iranian breaches of international nuclear commitments.

Iranian officials state that an active uranium enrichment program is vital to the nation's long-term plans for nuclear power development. These plans call for the construction of eight nuclear reactors, the first of which is expected to be completed by the end of 2004. The United States maintains the enrichment program forms part of a secret plan by Tehran to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is solely for the peaceful production of electricity.

On 29 November 2003 Hassan Rohani, the secretary general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran had suspended its uranium enrichment program in his words, "voluntarily and temporarily" as a a confidence-building measure. He said the enrichment program was, in his words, "not in question and never has been, nor will be."

In January 2004 Tehran acknowledged that it was continuing to assemble additional centrifuges. This appeared to violated the the 31 October 2003 agreement -- brokered by France, Britain and Germany -- to suspend uranium enrichment activities.

On 12 February 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency found designs for the advanced P2 centrifuge that should have been, but were not, mentioned in Iran's October 2003 declaration of its atomic program. Pakistan had supplied Libya with the same type of plans for a gas centrifuge but also with a weapon design. It was unclear whether or not the Pakistanis had also supplied Iran with a nuclear weapon warhead design.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, released a statement 13 February 2004, saying that Iran has had big success in the field of nuclear fuel cycle technology. Asefi also said Iran's advances were made in an attempt to overcome US sanctions, and to ensure that Iran can become energy self-sufficient in the coming years. The spokesman for the Iranian foreign minister said Friday that his government favors banning weapons of mass destruction, because Iran was subject to chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein's regime during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. "The technology to enrich uranium is a peaceful example of using nuclear technology for generating energy and all members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will have to cooperate with each other on that," he said.

Under Secretary of State John Bolton said the finding shows Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons. "The information that the IAEA has learned is certainly consistent with the information that we had, and it's not surprising. It's another act of Iranian deception and not something that leads to any feeling of security, that they are carrying through on their commitment to suspend enrichment activity," Bolton said. "There is no doubt in our mind that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program," said Deputy of Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage

On 13 February 2004 US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said disclosure by International Atomic Energy Agency officials reinforced the US view that Iran has continuing nuclear weapons ambitions. "We do not believe that Iran has made a strategic decision to abandon its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Furthermore, we don't believe that Iran has been fully transparent in its October declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency despite the (IAEA) board of governors having determined it essential that the declaration reflect a correct, complete and final picture of Iran's past and present program."

On 09 March 2004 Alireza Jafarzadeh, who disclosed in August 2002 Iran's facilities at Natanz and Arak, said Iranian leaders decided at a recent meeting to seek an atom bomb "at all costs" and begin enriching uranium at secret plants. "They set a timetable to get a bomb by the end of 2005 at the latest," the former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran said. "They will heavily rely on smaller secret enrichment sites at Karaj, Esfahan and at other places."

Langley busy preparing for arrival of stealthy fighter jets

Lt. Col Ray O'Mara is an F-15 pilot, but he hopes to get tapped to fly the F/A-22 Raptor, the next-generation fighter jet coming to Langley Air Force Base by the end of the year.

"I would put body parts on sale on eBay if I thought it would do me good to be able to get to fly this airplane," said O'Mara, chief of the 1st Fighter Wing F/A-22 Integration Office at Langley, which is busy tearing down and putting up buildings to prepare for the Raptors, even as the stealthy jets continue to encounter criticism over rising costs.

"From a pilot's perspective, it's an absolute dream," O'Mara said. "The things that this aircraft can do, the speed that it can fly, the maneuvering capability that it's got, are just incredible."

Langley will be the first operational unit to receive the Raptors and expects the first planes to arrive by year's end. The 1st Fighter Wing will be the first Air Force unit to convert from another aircraft to the F/A-22, O'Mara said.

The Raptors are replacing the F-15Cs, which are approaching 30 years old. Unlike its predecessor, the Raptor can fly at supersonic speeds for long ranges.

Langley has about $105 million of construction going on at the base, plus about $20 million to $25 million in renovation projects, O'Mara said.

Langley is tearing down three old hangars and replacing them with facilities that will have a smaller footprint but more usable interior space, O'Mara said.

Langley also is building a facility to maintain the new jets and a training facility for pilots that will provide real-time training in a 360-degree cockpit. The screen will project different scenarios allowing pilots to gain more flying experience without actually being in the air.

In addition, about 25 Langley-based mechanics are being sent to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to learn how to work on the jets.

The Langley projects are on track, an Air Force spokeswoman said, even despite a report last month from the General Accounting Office that said the military can now afford only 218 of the F/A-22 planes within a $36.8 billion spending cap.

The Air Force originally planned to buy 750 but since has reduced the number to 277.

The plane was conceived at the end of the Cold War. The Pentagon recently agreed to advance the Raptor to a more rigorous phase of testing.

The first combat-ready planes are supposed to hit the skies next year, and the military is supposed to decide by December whether to continue with full production of the plane. The GAO report called on the Pentagon to submit to Congress a detailed justification of the program before that decision.

The plane has had problems with its tail fins, canopy and computer software, the report noted. Its avionics computer processors are obsolete, and changing to new ones necessary for the plane's expanded role will take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the report said.

Defense analyst Patrick Garrett called the Raptor "a new toy for the Air Force."

While "pilots are hot to trot to get into the cockpit ... and drop a bomb or two," there are questions as to whether the plane is needed, said Garrett. He noted that the Iraqis did not get a single aircraft up in the air against the United States during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Garrett also said the F-15s that are being phased out still have some good fighting life in them.

"So long as you're able to buy the spare parts and fix the airplane, and the Air Force is very good at that, I'm not worried about planes," said Garrett of GlobalSecurity.org, a nonprofit military intelligence and space research organization in Alexandria

Garrett said the F/A-22 was a good way to learn about stealth technology for fighter aircraft but that its technology is going to be obsolete by the time the jet is deployed to all the Air Force wings.

Brig. Gen. Kelvin R. Coppock, director of intelligence at Air Combat Command's headquarters at Langley, said the Air Force is not building the Raptor simply to push the technology envelope.

"The reason we even get to this point of building the F/22s is there's a threat out there," said Coppock, who leads more than 16,000 intelligence operations people.

"Our adversaries are continuing to develop capabilities that are trying to counter the capabilities that we have," Coppock said. He said the identity of those adversaries is classified, but "it's not hard to imagine who those adversaries are."

"We have to improve what we can do against our adversaries because we don't want a fair fight," Coppock said. "We want to be so overwhelming to whoever is threatening our values and our way of life that they decide they don't want to do that because they know if they do it will be catastrophic upon them."

Yard workers will help flip new ship's switch
The Navy's next-generation destroyer will have an advanced electrical power system designed largely by engineers in Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS - When you think of Northrop Grumman Newport News, Navy destroyers aren't typically the first ships that jump to mind.

For decades, the shipyard has been almost exclusively a maker of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, with some commercial ship-repair business on the side. And it's clear that the company doesn't plan to change its focus soon. But in its largest effort in years on a ship that's not a flattop or a sub, Northrop Grumman Newport News is designing, developing and testing one of the most vital systems for the Navy's next-generation DD(X) multi-mission destroyer - its integrated power system, one of the more dramatic changes on the new class of ships from the current destroyers.

The DD(X) will have electric drive - meaning that two electric motors, rather than gas-turbine engines and reduction gears, will directly spin the ship's two propeller shafts. Gas-turbine generators will provide the power to run the electric motors and other systems on the ship.

The DD(X) will be the first Navy combat ship in decades to use electric drive and the first to use a new kind of motor that packs a big punch.

"The technology has finally come to where it's small enough to fit into a ship," said Peter C. Diakun, Northrop Grumman Newport News' director for the Marine Integrated Power Systems program.

But the electric-drive motor is just one part of the revolutionary integrated power system on the DD(X). That total structure is expected to be more fuel-efficient than the old systems. It's expected to allow rapid changes in power distributions - either to provide peak energy for future advanced weaponry or to redirect fire in case of an attack. And it's designed for more flexibility regarding where large gas-turbine engines can be placed.

The two electric motors on the DD(X) - 50,000 horsepower each - are being designed and built by DRS Power Systems of Hudson, Mass, which has been partnering for more than 15 years with Newport News on power work. Newport News' expertise is in the total system architecture - how the motors, gas turbines, generators, cabling, switchboards and other parts work together. More than 50 engineers from Newport News are working on the project.

Newport News' background to the destroyer business - or, at least, the destroyer system business - actually began as a sub initiative.

In the early 1990s, Newport News Shipbuilding invested heavily in researching new power systems, foreseeing quiet electric motors as a future benefit for subs. The theory is that electric-driven propellers are inherently less noisy than turbine-driven ones, giving an advantage in stealth.

In 1996, Newport News Shipbuilding partnered with Kaman Electromagnetics Group of Hudson, Mass. (later bought out by DRS Technologies of Parsippany, N.J.), and Northrop Grumman Marine Systems of California to develop an electric-drive motor. The motor used advanced high-density magnets to get more power than old electric-drive systems. It soon became clear, however, that the new motors were still too big for subs, where space is at an even greater premium than in surface ships. But the technology was timed perfectly for the DD(X), which needs the technology now.

"We were working on this technology and had invested in it, and it had matured enough, and the Navy had confidence that this was the right application," explained Irwin F. Edenzon, the shipyard's vice president of technology development and fleet support. "So we were in the right place at the right time."

In and of itself, electric drive is nothing new. Electric-drive systems, using an older conventional electric-motor technology, are very common in the cruise-ship industry, for example. "Cruise ships have all kinds of space, so they can put a big motor on there," Diakun said. "They're using it purely to save fuel."

And the Navy is no stranger to electric drive, either. Lots of World War II-era ships used electric drive, including the Langley, the first aircraft carrier. Two decommissioned nuclear-powered subs built by Electric Boat, the Tullibee and the Glenard P. Lipscomb, also used it. And a new Navy logistics ship is also being designed with an electric motor. But technological advances - using advanced magnets - to be used on the DD(X) are making the new electric-drive motors less bulky - and packing more of a punch - than those used in cruise ships and Navy ships of old. That makes the new systems competitive with other systems for ships that have high power needs. The shipyard has dabbled in enacting the new-style systems, putting it on the LSV2, a small test sub that built in 2000.

And unlike cruise ships and the older Navy ships that used electric drive, the DD(X) will have a fully integrated power system. That means, in part, that the DD(X)'s electric-drive motor and the auxiliary systems - lighting, cooling, cooking and weaponry - will both get their electricity from the same place: a set of gas-turbine electrical generators.

In current Arleigh-Burke ships, for example, there are four gas-turbine engines - two to turn each of the propellers - as well as three smaller gas-turbine generators for auxiliary systems. But each propeller's engines and the generators for auxiliary systems operate independently.

On the DD(X), by contrast, a unified set of two large gas-turbine generators and two smaller ones will create a common shipboard electricity supply. Both propellers' electric motors and the auxiliary systems can draw from that power pool. And because the turbines work as a unit, they can draw off each other, and excessive power generation is reduced. The result is a fuel-efficiency gain of up to 20 percent. Ed Bartlett is president of DRS Technologies, the company that makes the motors for Newport News. He compared the efficiencies in the new motor to hybrid cars that use both electrically charged batteries and gasoline, depending on the situation.

"It's like the Toyota Prius," he said.

"Hybrid cars use the electric motor to supplement the gas motor for acceleration. Cars are not efficient when they're accelerating, but you can optimize the operation to take advantage of the best fuel economy at different times."

Just as important, the DD(X)'s system will be able to better distribute power throughout the vessel to allow the ship's future weapons systems - possibly including lasers - to draw huge amounts of power for peak periods.

And whereas in current ships the gas turbines must be near the drive shafts, they can be placed elsewhere with the new system, giving better flexibility in basic ship design.

In the late 1990s, two teams vied for the contract to design the DD(X).

Ingalls Shipbuilding, the Pascagoula, Miss.-based company that later became Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, led one team.

Raytheon, Newport News, Kaman and a host of others were also in that group.

The rival team was led by General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works in Maine, and it also included Lockheed Martin.

In April 2002, the Navy selected the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems team for a $2.9 billion contract to come up with a full-scale design and begin building the DD(X).

One reason that the Navy selected Northrop's team was that the integrated power system was considered less risky than the General Dynamics system, read a report on the program on the GlobalSecurity .org Web site.

The General Dynamics team, the report said, had mounted some of the components in external pods below the hull, whereas the Northrop Grumman team kept the equipment inside the ship.

When the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems team won the competition, the Newport News division and DRS Power Systems decided how they would break out their responsibilities, Bartlett of DRS said.

They decided that DRS would design and build the motors, the drive control; that other companies would build other components; and that Newport News would be responsible for the total system architecture.

That architecture, the integrated power system, is the largest of 11 advanced technologies that Northrop Grumman Ship Systems is testing for the DD(X).

All the efforts will come together in a big way in June 2005, when Northrop Grumman is planning to begin a test at a Navy site in Philadelphia.

The Navy plans to ask Congress for money for at least eight new destroyers by 2010, with the construction expected to take place at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and at Bath Iron Works.

Newport News isn't expected to build any of the ships.

And what will its efforts in the DD(X) mean for Newport News' core business of carriers and subs in the long term?

Some of the data collected through the program can be to help build electrical systems on CVN-21 program, the yard's next big carrier, which will have a big need for electricity.

But using electric drive systems on aircraft carriers is still a long way off.

One day, electric-drive motors might be small enough to power aircraft carriers - but Edenzon said it would be long after he retired.

For now, it's still more practical for aircraft carriers to use mechanical drive systems than electrical ones.

Carriers often have to operate full-bore, rather than at slower cruising speeds, during flight operations to help give warplanes adequate lift to take off. pdujardin@dailypress.com, 247-4749

New fight. New Force
The 3rd ID leads Army reorganization efforts as soldiers move away from the traditional Cold War approach to warfare

Iraq never launched a single helicopter or jet against the 3rd Infantry Division as it marched toward Baghdad last year. Still, the division had a battalion of air defense artillery soldiers and all of the equipment that goes with it.

Instead of shooting down planes, the air defense artillery soldiers found themselves fighting like the infantry.

"The Air Force will tell you that not a single American soldier has been killed by hostile aircraft since the Korean War," said Maj. Gen. William Webster, the division commander. "It will not be a threat of the future, so we can reduce the amount of air defense in the whole Army."

The use of air defense artillery battalions is just one example of how the Army is still organized as if it were ready to fight the Soviets on a Cold War battlefield.

That outdated design is the reason behind a massive reorganization taking place within the 3rd Division.

Army officials want to shift the fighting focus away from divisions to smaller brigades. The 3rd Division is the first to undergo the changes. It will serve as the lab monkey for the Army as a whole as it reorganizes the rest of its divisions over the next three years.

The charge to reorganize came last fall when Webster took command after the war. His superiors ordered him to make the changes. He's been trying to figure out how to implement those changes since.

The goal is for the 3rd Division to have its new look before returning to Iraq, which will be sometime between November and February.

"It's pretty ambitious but feasible," Webster said.

Changing times
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been preaching Army transformation since he took office in 2001.

Rumsfeld brought Gen. Peter Schoomaker, a former special operations commander, out of retirement to make him the Army's Chief of Staff with the order to make it happen.

It was Schoomaker who tagged the 3rd Infantry Division to become the first reorganized division within the Army.

Just home from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 3rd Division was the Army's only major unit that wasn't at war — or on its way there.

Plus, the 3rd Division, with its armored tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, was a classic example of the Army's use of combat forces designed to fight a Cold War battle.

The U.S. military no longer needs to prepare for a slug-fest against the Soviet Union, where there would have been clear battle lines as tanks faced off, said Marcus Corbin, senior analyst for the Center for Defense Information.

"Nobody wants to stand up and fight us anymore," Corbin said. "The U.S. Army, for all its technological advantages, is having people killed every day by gerry-rigged bombs on the side of the road."

Under the current structure, the Army is centered around divisions, which include somewhere between 16,000 to 20,000 troops.

When the military needs a mission accomplished, it sends a division even though it may be a larger force than is actually needed, said Michele Flournoy, a senior advisor with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As a result, unneeded people and equipment go to war.

Getting more ground fighters
What the Army needs is more soldiers on the ground in fighting roles. Troops on the ground need to be "trigger-pullers" as opposed to clerks or operators of unnecessary equipment.

The long range of an artillery canon isn't as useful when soldiers are fighting door-to-door urban combat.

Because of satellite communications and wireless technology, fewer soldiers are needed to run cables and set up antennas.

Because pay stubs and other forms are online, fewer finance clerks are needed to file paperwork.

To get there, the Army will shift soldiers out of fields such as artillery, signal and personnel.

As the division cuts back soldiers in those fields, it will transfer them to branches such as armor, infantry or military police, Webster said.

John Pike, a defense watcher who runs the Web site www.globalsecurity.org , predicts the Army will outsource many of those old jobs to private contractors such as Kellogg, Brown and Root. That company already does a majority of cooking for troops in Iraq, he said.

"The Army looked at that and said we need more people out driving Humvees instead of slinging hash in the mess halls," Pike said.

The latest lineup
It's still too early for details about how the 3rd Division will use its 17,000 soldiers.

Webster's staff continues to work on a structure for some roles such as reconnaissance and support.

What Webster does know is he will have four ground maneuver brigades and an enhanced aviation brigade that will have more than double the number of helicopters now assigned to Hunter Army Airfield.

While the four maneuver brigades won't be as large as brigades under the old system, they will have 25 percent more armor and mechanized infantry troops, meaning there will be more firepower.

All of this could add somewhere between 1,000 to 5,000 more troops at Fort Stewart and Hunter, Webster said. He's not sure where they would be located.

Hunter's runway and flight line are big enough to accommodate the additional helicopters, but there's not room for offices or additional barracks.

The new soldiers most likely will not relocate to Fort Stewart before the division returns to Iraq, Webster said.

"We're not talking about that yet because to get us ready to deploy, we don't need them to move here," he said. "We will go to Iraq with a provisional kind of 3rd ID, partially reorganized and partially with the current capabilities."

Improving troops' lives
Military experts say the Army's reorganization has as much to do with retaining troops as it does with fighting wars.

"At the end of the day, an awful lot of what they're doing is focused on retention," Pike said.

The Army is straining under the pressure of its global commitments — Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and dozens of other countries. Because of those missions, soldiers are constantly deployed for long periods of time.

That means leaving families behind while soldiers live in miserable, often life-threatening conditions.

As a result, the Army fears soldiers — and their families — will opt out of the service.

In fact, Pike believes the magnitude of the reorganization reflects the magnitude of a future retention problem.

In the end, the Army hopes that a larger number of maneuver brigades means deployment schedules are more predictable and deployments less frequent, Pike said.

The Army has 33 maneuver brigades, but hopes to increase that number by 10 to 15 within the next three years.

With those 43 to 48 brigades, the Army could set up a schedule so that units know in advance when it was their turn to be deployed.

"It might — might — give us the opportunity to have a brigade remain in the U.S. longer before it goes back into combat," Webster said.

Will it work?
Time will tell how this structure works on the battlefield.

But that time will come quickly.

Already, the first reorganized unit is getting tested on a mock battlefield at Fort Irwin, Calif. Webster will spend two weeks with the unit to monitor its progress.

Most likely, changes will be made based on that unit's experience.

Others – including military officials and defense analysts – are also watching the 3rd Division, Pike said.

"We're reading tea leaves and hanging on every word," Pike said.

The 3rd Division – and the Army as a whole – has a big task on its hands.

The 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., are next in line for the changes.

The Army, after all, has been fighting the same way for more than half a century, and it's never been known for its flexibility.

All current manuals, policies and procedures describing equipment and tactics are geared toward Cold War doctrine.

Now, they must be re-written.

"It's hard to change all of that," Pike said. "You can't just change one thing."

Transforming the 3rd ID
The 3rd Infantry Division is in the middle of a sweeping change that will bring more soldiers and helicopters to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Army officials also hope the division's new look will make it a more agile fighting force while bringing more stability to soldiers' lives.

Maj. Gen. William Webster wants the new look in place by the time the division returns to Iraq, which will be sometime between Thanksgiving and February. Many details of the new organization aren't in place, but here's a look at some changes on the way:

The Soldiers
* Soldiers will be assigned to four maneuver brigades and a fifth brigade focused on aviation. Right now, there are three maneuver brigades.

* Although the new maneuver brigades will have fewer soldiers than they did under the old structure, they will have 25 percent more armor and mechanized infantry troops.

* The division will also have brigade-like units for delivering long-range fire, reconnaissance and support. Details on how those units will look have not been worked out.

The ground equipment
* The new brigades will also have a reconnaissance squadron with 31 Bradley fighting vehicles.

* There will be fewer howitzers and fewer engineering vehicles in each brigade.

The aviation equipment
* The division's Black Hawk battalion will grow to 30 helicopters from 16.

* The division will receive 12 Chinook helicopters.

* Each maneuver brigade will have 58 tanks and 58 Bradley fighting vehicles.

* There will be more armored Humvees.

* The division will have two Apache helicopter battalions with 24 Longbow choppers each. Now, the division has one Apache battalion with 18 helicopters.

* The division will receive 12 Chinook helicopters.

* Between 1,000 to 5,000 additional soldiers could be assigned to the 3rd Division.Although the new maneuver brigades will have fewer soldiers, 4,000, than they did under the old structure, they will have 25 percent more armor and mechanized infantry troops.The division will also have brigade-like units for delivering long-range fire, reconnaissance and support. Details on how those units will look have not been worked out.


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