Tag Archives: lockheed martin

The F-18 vs. the F-35: ¿Quien Es Mas Macho?

Mother Jones

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More brilliance from Donald Trump:

There is nothing that military buffs love more than nerding out about the F-18 vs. the F-35. The F-18 is cheaper! The F-35 is stealthier! The F-18 makes tighter turns! The F-35 is a one-seater! The F-18 is better in a dogfight! The F-35 has better avionics! The F-18 can be fitted with external fuel tanks for longer range! Denmark says the F-35 was a clear winner in its flight tests! Canada says it wants the F-18! This is the kind of argument that Trump fans adore.

But on a substantive level, Trump’s tweet is junior high school stuff. Boeing has been building new variants of the F-18 ever since it was introduced. They’ve already demonstrated upgraded Block III Super Hornets designed (they claim) to perform most of the missions envisioned for the F-35. In other words, they don’t need to “price-out” a “comparable” F-18. They’ve already done it, and everyone in the military is well aware of what Boeing has to offer. Besides, the F-18 will never be as stealthy as the F-35 and it will never have the same avionics, so there’s no way to ever make it truly comparable anyway.

As near as I can tell, once the F-35 is fully tested, the software constraints are tuned, and its pilots get enough flight hours behind them, the F-35 will be indisputably superior to the F-18 at nearly the same per-unit cost as the latest and greatest Super Hornet. Considering that the F-18 is forty years old, it sure ought to be. The program as a whole may have been an epic disaster, but now that it’s done the F-35 is going to be America’s primary multirole fighter for the next few decades. There’s no going back.

So what’s up? Is Trump just trying to make nice with Boeing after dissing the cost of the new Air Force Ones? Does he think this is a clever tactic to scare Lockheed Martin into offering the F-35 at a lower price? Did some admiral get his attention and gripe about the F-35 being a single-engine airframe? Is he just blowing hot air? As usual, no one knows.

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The F-18 vs. the F-35: ¿Quien Es Mas Macho?

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Lockheed Martin Wants to Pull Electricity from the Ocean’s Heat

If all goes to plan, a new deal inked by two of the world’s biggest companies could give rise to a sustainability advocate’s paradise: a resort near the South China Sea that gets all of its power from the heat of the water nearby through a new type of renewable energy.

The deal, says a news release issued by Lockheed Martin, will see the defense giant partner with the Reignwood Group—a massive company that does everything from selling Red Bull in China to operate hotels and golf courses, managing properties and operating a private aircraft service—to develop the first commercial plant for a new type of renewable energy generation system known as ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

Ocean thermal energy conversion draws on the natural temperature gradient that forms in tropical oceans worldwide. The surface of the ocean, heated by the Sun, is much warmer than the water deeper down. OTEC plants use the warm surface water to boil a liquid with a really low boiling point in a low-pressure container to form steam. This steam then drives a turbine, generating electricity. Colder water from deeper down is pulled up in a pipe, and by having this cold water pass by the pipe containing the steam, the steam is condensed back into a liquid. The liquid flows around, is heated by the warm surface water, and turns into steam once more—on and on, generating electricity from the temperature gradient in the ocean.

The idea for ocean thermal energy conversaion has been around for a really, really long time. “The concept of deriving energy from ocean thermal gradients was a French idea, suggested in 1881 by Jacques d’Arsonval, and French engineers have been active in developing the requisite technology,” says Marine Energy Times.

According to energy reporter Tyler Hamilton, famed engineer Nikola Tesla even tried his hands at making it work.

While Lockheed has been working on this for four decades, one of the first in-depth discussions of the concept came from Nikola Tesla, who at the age of 75 outlined how such a plant might be built in the December 1931 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics journal. Tesla spent considerable time devising a way to improve the efficiencies of such a power plant, but he determined that it was too great an engineering challenge at the time. “I have studied this plan of power production from all angles and have devised apparatus for bringing down all losses to what I might call the irreducible minimum and still I find the performance too small to enable successful competition with the present methods,” he wrote, though still expressing hope that new methods would eventually make it possible to economically tap the thermal energy in oceans.

So the idea is old, but recent technological developments have driven ocean thermal energy conversion into the realm of possibility. Interestingly, some of the most troubling issues facing OTEC were solved by the oil industry, says the Marine Energy Times:

Ocean thermal is the only remaining vast, untapped source of renewable energy, and is now ripe for commercialization.  The near market-readiness of this technology is largely attributable to the remarkable ocean-engineering innovations and successful experience of the offshore oil industry during the past thirty years in developing, investing in, and  introducing mammoth floating platforms.  That achievement has inadvertently satisfied ocean thermal’s key operational requirement, for a large, stable, reliable ocean platform capable of operating in storms, hurricanes and typhoons.

Consequently, adaptations of those offshore-ocean-platform designs can be spun-off  to supply the proven ocean-engineering framework on which to mount the specialized ocean thermal plant and plantship heat exchangers, turbomachinery, cold water pipe (CWP) system, and other components and subsystems.Those offshore engineering achievements have greatly reduced the real and perceived risks of investing in ocean thermal plants.

Lockheed Martin has been working on the technology behind OTEC, too, and the deal with the Reignwood Group will see them build a test plant. If they manage to pull it off, the work could open the door to increased investment in this new form of renewable energy.

According to Green Tech Media, there are some potential environmental issues to look out for: if the cold water brought up from depth is pumped out into the surface waters, you could trigger a huge algae bloom that is really bad for the local ecosystem. But, if you release the cold water further down, around 70 meters depth, you should be able to avoid this dilemma. Having a small-scale test plant will give researchers a way to learn about any other unforeseen issues before moves are made to implement this new type of renewable energy on a larger scale.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Clean Energy Can Come From Dirt
Catching a Wave, Powering an Electrical Grid?

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Lockheed Martin Wants to Pull Electricity from the Ocean’s Heat

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Lockheed Martin Has Crazy-Fast Quantum Computers And Plans on Actually Using Them

Close up of a processor for a D-Wave quantum computer. Photo: D-Wave Systems Inc.

Lockheed Martin, a U.S. aerospace and defense company (and all-around inventor-of-the-future) will be the first company in the world to wrangle quantum computing out of the realm of research and into commercial scale usage, says The New York Times.

Starting from an early quantum computer built by Canadian firm D-Wave that the defense contractor bought a few years ago, Lockheed Martin will ramp up the technology to become “the first company to use quantum computing as part of its business,” says the Times.

Quantum computers are a fledgling, finicky technology that should be able to crunch through complex mathematical equations “millions of times faster” than today’s computers.

Ray Johnson, Lockheed’s chief technical officer, said his company would use the quantum computer to create and test complex radar, space and aircraft systems. It could be possible, for example, to tell instantly how the millions of lines of software running a network of satellites would react to a solar burst or a pulse from a nuclear explosion — something that can now take weeks, if ever, to determine.

Whether Lockheed Martin’s venture pans out, the move heralds an ongoing shift in the quantum computing world. Just a few days ago, the founders of BlackBerry announced that they are opening up a $100 million research facility focusing on quantum computing.

The Times says that the large-scale application of quantum computers could bring the digit-crunching prowess of the technology to bear on a huge number of important problems:

Cancer researchers see a potential to move rapidly through vast amounts of genetic data. The technology could also be used to determine the behavior of proteins in the human genome, a bigger and tougher problem than sequencing the genome. Researchers at Google have worked with D-Wave on using quantum computers to recognize cars and landmarks, a critical step in managing self-driving vehicles.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Quantum Computing Now At Least Vaguely Plausible

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Lockheed Martin Has Crazy-Fast Quantum Computers And Plans on Actually Using Them

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