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Multicores Affect Algorithm Choices

Design engineers soon will need to bridge the growing gap between hardware reality and software capabilities in the highperformance computing (HPC) realm as the use of multicore microprocessors grows. If your software development or sourcing plans haven't anticipated these development situations, your applications may have a shorter life than you had planned.

The 2006 version of technical computing "reality" is an inexpensive dual-core processor from AMD or Intel on a desktop system, or a dual- or quad-core RISC processor from Sun or IBM running on a server. In 2007, we should expect to see inexpensive quad-core processors from AMD and Intel, and processors with up to eight or more cores in 2008. These small symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems will be a far cry from the proprietary $500,000+ SMP systems of a few years ago. This technology transition has big implications for the "democratization" of computing power. On the horizon are four- to eightcore systems that cost only a few thousand dollars and sit on the desk of every design engineer.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Systems engineering
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Data Fusion for Space Situational Awareness

Satellites greatly enhance US defense operations; however, these key assets are vulnerable to perils such as space weather and acts of aggression. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the cause of anomalies from the ground. What may first appear as a routine system glitch may, in fact, be something much more serious. Providing the ability to detect—and in some cases, predict—events via multiple data sources can be critical to mission success and the safeguarding of space assets. Threat analysts must be able both to distinguish external, man-made threats, natural threats, and environmental conditions from internal, satellite bus anomalies in real time and to subsequently perform mitigating actions.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Technology
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Near-Precision Soft Landing Resupply Dispenser

AFRL munitions experts teamed with engineers from Systima Technologies, Inc., under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to develop a Covert Resupply (COVRES) dispenser. The team based its design on an existing Wind- Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD™). The COVRES system, which will enable air delivery of critically needed supplies to troops who are under fire or otherwise isolated, uses the novel employment concept illustrated in Figure 1. As shown, the event sequence begins with (A) high-altitude release, and progresses as follows: (B) a WCMD tail unit provides nearprecision inertial guidance, (C) a drogue chute deploys 25 seconds prior to ground impact, (D) the drogue chute deploys the main parachute, (E) a crushable nose minimizes landing shock, and (F) quickrelease clamps enable easy access to the cargo.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Blended Wing Body Aircraft

Scientists from Boeing Phantom Works, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and AFRL are testing a new aircraft with the potential to realize up to 30% better fuel efficiency because of its unique "flying-wing" shape. The prototype blended wing body, or BWB, aircraft is a modified, triangular-shaped aircraft configuration with 20 control surfaces along its trailing edge. Researchers believe the BWB configuration will produce better fuel efficiency because a greater portion of the aircraft is involved in producing lift. The additional lift stems from the replacement of the conventional tube-shaped aircraft fuselage with the more aerodynamically efficient wing centerbody.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Improved Accuracy of Computational Fluid Dynamics Calculations

Understanding how air flows over the surfaces of an air vehicle can help AFRL designers maximize the vehicle's performance and minimize its cost. AFRL scientists recently developed a tool that improves the accuracy of airflow simulations that result from computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculations. As part of a Small Business Innovation Research effort, AFRL collaborated with Combustion Research and Flow Technology (CRAFT), Inc., to develop the tool for use with unstructured CFD programs. The new tool uses the solver's initial solution to determine where grid points should be added or removed within the CFD mesh, a process which then improves the solver's solution in a second—and any subsequent—iteration. This enhanced accuracy improves AFRL's ability to support the warfighter with lower-cost, higher-value designs.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Remote-Controlled Aerial Vehicle for Application of Pesticides

AFRL demonstrated its Remotely Controlled Aerial Vehicle for Application of Pesticides (RCAVAP) at the Force Protection Equipment Demonstration (FPED) conducted at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia. During times of war, disease has historically caused more deaths than bullets, far outnumbering any other cause. Consider, for example, the Mexican-American war. Over 1,000 soldiers were killed in action, 529 died of wounds sustained on the battlefield, 362 suffered accidental death, and 11,155 perished from disease— mostly yellow fever, a viral illness transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. During World War II, malaria ravaged the troops. Spread by the female anopheline mosquito, the disease affected thousands of American soldiers. More recently, a single 2-week period in Baqubah, Iraq, saw 250 cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disfiguring parasitic disease spread by the female sandfly.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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AFRL Proves Feasibility of Plasma Actuators

AFRL is laying the groundwork for the development of revolutionary hypersonic aerospace vehicles (see Figure 1). Accordingly, AFRL engineers are examining the feasibility of replacing an air vehicle's traditional, mechanically or electrically actuated flight control surfaces (e.g., wing flaps) with plasma actuators that require no moving parts and are therefore potentially less expensive and more reliable. As part of the laboratory's Boundary Layers and Hypersonics program, the engineers conducted a wind tunnel test to evaluate the feasibility of using plasma actuators for airframe flight control.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Composites Design and Structural Analysis Tool

AFRL researchers developed a unique design and structural analysis tool for composite materials, and they subsequently transitioned their product to manufacturers of helicopters and other rotorcraft. The new tool, the B-Spline Analysis Method (BSAM), makes it quicker and less expensive to characterize and predict the behavior of flaws or damage in the structures used to build these aircraft. AFRL developed the technology in coordination with the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) and the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) and then transitioned it to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Corrosion Suppression Technologies and Techniques

Members of AFRL's Air Force Corrosion Prevention and Control Office (AFCPCO) teamed with corrosion experts from Warner Robins Air Logistics Center to assess environmentally induced damage to systems and equipment subjected to extended operations in Southwest Asia (SWA). The purpose of the ongoing assessment effort is to observe the effects of sand and dust intrusion on Air Force (AF) weapons systems and sensitive support equipment (see figure), analyze sands from various locations, and compare corrosion prevention and control policies and inspection requirements from prewar to present-day operations. As the investigation proceeds, team members are providing progressive and alternative approaches to corrosion prevention and control, wet and dry cleaning, and aircraft maintenance tasks performed in rigorous environmental conditions.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Enhanced Blast-Resistant Windows

AFRL entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Dlubak Technologies, Inc., of Freeport, Pennsylvania, to pursue ongoing research in blast-resistant window and glazing technologies. Dlubak Technologies—a 50-year-old glass manufacturing company—provided fullscale window and frame products (see Figure 1) to AFRL for blast mitigation testing at AFRL's Sky Ten Range, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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