A new research center is helping scientists to better understand the realm of the very small and to integrate discoveries into existing technologies. Devoted to nonclassified work, the facility is administered by two U.S. national science laboratories and geared toward providing researchers with open access to specialized tools and expertise. Although the main building is still under construction, a number of programs already are underway through special funding.
Researchers in the long quest for battlefield laser weapons are closing on their objective with the development of a new type of solid-state laser system at a U.S. government laboratory. This laser can be mounted in a small vehicle and can draw from battery power to shoot down difficult-to-hit projectiles such as mortar rounds, or it can be aimed downward to neutralize the threat of buried mines and other explosive devices.
To meet a bold presidential mandate for space exploration, NASA scientists are developing new power and propulsion systems for future generations of manned and unmanned missions. These applications will allow spacecraft to travel efficiently far into the outer solar system, preparing the way for a manned return to the moon and eventually a manned flight to Mars. And new technologies to stay in touch with these distant missions may revolutionize near-earth communications as well.
The U.S. Army is turning to commercial game technology to teach soldiers how to function like sensors in the network-centric battlespace. An application derived from popular computer-game software is teaching Army personnel how to think, act and respond like intelligence sensors in a network.
Focus with flexibility is now the hallmark of the U.S. Defense Department's principal communications capabilities provider. Just 18 months after its third restructuring and in the midst of supporting current operations, the Defense Information Systems Agency is nearing final operational capability of a robust network foundation that will offer warfighters a mega-increase in bandwidth. At the same time, the agency has been meeting immediate needs with new services and scoping out a future that may include modularly designed Web services. These Web services would allow warfighters to harvest the information and intelligence they need from various sources in near-real time.
Every year, scores of wireless communications products enter the commercial marketplace, but ensuring their security in U.S. government applications remains a major cause for concern for federal authorities. Through the Defense Information Systems Agency and the National Security Agency, the government is creating an architecture as resistant to hacking and other cybercrime as it is secure and efficient for approved users to navigate. A key part of this effort is an accreditation regime that tests and approves all new technologies set to enter civilian government and military programs.
For more than five decades, AFCEA has been proud to provide an ethical forum in which military, government and industry personnel can meet, exchange ideas and work toward solutions. The focus has always been on electronic communications avenues, and the association has endeavored not only to keep pace with the changes in technology and policy but also to stay well ahead of them. This is the benefit of membership. From algorithms to networking, experts have turned to AFCEA to help them share their discoveries and meet their challenges.
The U.S. Defense Department is turning to a family of software agents that locate, recognize and speed the delivery of critical information to where it is needed most on the battlefield. When minutes and seconds are precious commodities to a warfighter, software transfer agents help manage and expedite the dissemination of badly needed information. These robot-like software tools help leverage the power of the information age.
As the U.S. Army scrambles to digitize the battlefield, an important element in the warfighter's information network is a new high-capacity line-of-sight radio. Operating with an extremely efficient waveform in minimally occupied portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, this multiband software-reprogrammable radio system significantly enhances the ability to meet burgeoning theater bandwidth requirements.
The military's increasing reliance on commercial off-the-shelf information systems is leading to an environment in which the technologies could be driving the doctrine. The opportunities-and the challenges-presented by these new technologies cover the gamut of communications, computing, sensors, networks, interoperability and security. The defense community's response to this development may define military superiority for years to come.