A research and development organization originally created to boost economic development in North Carolina is now providing cutting-edge technologies to the U.S. Defense Department. Areas of exploration range from information assurance to sensors to ultrahigh-speed communications. Many of the projects will facilitate intelligence gathering and directly support warfighters.
Researchers at a national laboratory have discovered a way to construct microelectrical systems using magnetic fields to arrange internal structures. The technology already is opening the door to breakthroughs in sensor and magnetic identification systems, and yet-undiscovered capabilities such as realistic artificial limbs and more esoteric applications may lie on the horizon.
It takes a lot of brains to develop new technologies, and one U.S. Navy project is capitalizing on another type of brainpower. Navy researchers are examining work conducted jointly by the New York University Medical School and Russia's Nizhny Novgorod State University and Institute for Applied Sciences that uses brain activity as the model for controlling movement in unmanned undersea vehicles. The advances culled from this research could support better designs for autonomous underwater vehicles that could hunt mines, deliver and retrieve sensors, track ship movement or gather plume samples.
Researchers are taking optics to new levels by developing the architecture, components and prototype systems for all-optical packet routing that can send and receive up to 100 terabits of data every second. The research is based on the premise that photons can do more than just carry a signal from one point to another; they also can facilitate extremely high-speed switching.
The French army soon may benefit from a prototype command and control system for helicopters that allows low-flying aircraft to share data in a tactical network. The technology features detailed digital terrain maps that can be viewed in the cockpit or from a groundstation before a mission. Mission-planning information and text messaging also can be transmitted via this airborne system.
An electrically conductive resin technology may soon free warfighter and civilian wireless devices from bulky aerials. The proprietary recipe can be added to any of the thousands of polymers used to manufacture cases and components, turning the entire bezel of a cellular telephone or handheld radio into an antenna.
The diverse nature of threats in the 21st century calls for advanced planning strategies and international cooperation. As governments and the private sector face both physical and cyber attacks, organizations must focus not only on defense but also on how to recover after a disaster has occurred.
By David M. Wennergren, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Department of the Navy
The pace of technological change is relentless. Living in a networked world offers tremendous opportunities to leverage emerging technologies to improve national defense capabilities and the quality of work and life for sailors, Marines and civilians. The advent of the Internet age opened the door for the U.S. Navy to move away from stand-alone solutions to a world of authoritative data sources that are available anywhere, anytime through self-service transactions. It is an age of knowledge, where Web services and portal technologies are allowing dramatically improved productivity and effectiveness, while eliminating the unnecessary cost of building and maintaining duplicate information solutions.
Small businesses constitute a major element of AFCEA International's membership. Their breadth of activity in many ways reflects AFCEA's areas of interest, and the association is paying heed to their impact as well as to their needs.
Although experts agree that the vast majority of future military operations will be fought by joint forces, the U.S. military's information technology continues to be somewhat fragmented. To take advantage of all the benefits of information operations during a mission, systems used by all the forces and at all levels must be able to talk to each other. Numerous technologies have been developed that enable this capability; however, the challenge is larger than technology.