A multi-million-dollar scheme to build a spy drone called Hunter is among
military projects set aside in the White House's federal budget for fiscal 1997.
However, the Republican-led Congress is striving to reinstate many tabled
Pentagon undertakings, including the Hunter drone. The Administration proposes
to spend $281 billion for defense, a cut of about $3 billion from its 1996
request and $9 billion less than its baseline projection. Many Pentagon projects
that survived in the Clinton budget would get fewer dollars than the military
requested. The proposal would, however, provide funds for four guided-missile
destroyers and 12 Super Hornet strike fighters for Navy testing. The budget also
would support further R&D on the Air Force's radar-evading F-22 fighter and
the Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey, an aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and
landing for assaults and rescues. The Administration also wants to spend $5.9
billion in the year starting next October 1 for work at government facilities
producing nuclear weapons. In non-military ventures, the Clinton budget
increases funds for Superfund cleanup, research on renewable energy and the
environment, and technology promotion, including the disputed Advanced
U.S. Navy begins flight tests of Super
Hornet combat jets
Three years of flight tests of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet have begun at the Navy's premier research, test and evaluation center in Patuxent River, MD. The new combat plane is 25% larger than its predecessor, the Hornet. It offers longer range, greater endurance, increased weapons and fuel-carrying capability, and improved survivability. McDonnell Douglas delivered the first Super Hornet to the station in mid-February; six more are scheduled to arrive by the end of the year. Researchers will use the single-seat E1 version to test propulsion performance. Beginning around midyear, they will use the first F model, which has two seats, to determine how suitable the Super Hornet is for use on aircraft carriers. Sea trials start next January. The Navy plans to put the Super Hornet into operational service in the year 2001. If all goes well, Navy officials expect to buy 1,000 of the planes by 2015.
'Supercar' program needs to refocus, report finds
It's time to put more emphasis on direct-injection compression-ignition engine technology in the search for a super-fuel-efficient car, according to a National Research Council committee report. That committee has been keeping watch over the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), which brings the federal government and Detroit's Big Three automakers together to develop what has been nicknamed the "Supercar." The auto would be mid-size and get the equivalent fuel economy of 80 mpg. There has been minimal research in the U.S. on using direct-injection compression-ignition engines in passenger cars, the report states, urging PNGV to examine research underway in Asia and Europe. Next year, PNGV is slated to begin selecting technologies to be incorporated in concept vehicles and production prototypes. Hybrid-electric vehicles appear to be the strongest contenders, the panel finds, but a big technical hurdle will be reducing nitrogen-oxide emissions to acceptable levels.
Further design research urged on double-hulled tankers
Could double-hulled tankers pose a worse threat of oil spills than conventional single-hulled ships? The Committee on Marine Structures of the National Research Council seeks an answer. In mandating the double-hull design, U.S. government officials assumed that the outer hull would absorb most of the impact from a low-energy collision, leaving the inner hull intact. But a committee report notes: "It is not known whether either hull will be able to deflect considerably before rupturing or if the double-hull stiffening members will prematurely punch through the outer hull as well as the inner hull, which would result both in structural damage and oil spill." Many new double-hull tankers are scheduled for construction over the next 15 years. Of 20 proposed research projects on ship structure, the committee's top three priorities concern double hulls. They cover rupture resistance of cargo tanks, alternative stiffening systems, and fillet welding. The panel also recommends funding for a manual and short course for ship designers covering fatigue and fracture analysis of ship structure. Both would stress use of new tools, including a probability-based structural-design methodology.
Free directory lists machine tools and equipment
The 1996 "Directory: Machine Tools & Manufacturing Equipment" is now available from the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), headquartered in McLean, VA. The publication includes information on machine tools, manufacturing machinery, and related products built by AMT members. To get a free copy of the 220-page directory contact AMT's publication clerk at (703) 893-2900 or fax your request to (703) 893-1151.