The armed forces in many countries are examining the methods they use to acquire information technology systems. In a coalition environment, procuring communications equipment that will be employed by several nations during cooperative operations is more complicated than point and click. The new trend for allied nations is to begin further back in the supply chain, scrutinizing the processes that influence the development of products.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing a new simulation environment to provide readily available, operationally valid, computer-assisted instruction for commanders in chief. Known as the joint simulation system, the assemblage will train the commanders, their components and commands, other joint organizations, and the services and agencies in computer-assisted joint exercises. The system will offer a realistic environment to train subordinate warfighting commanders and develop doctrine and tactics. In addition, it will help commanders formulate and assess operational plans, conduct mission rehearsals, define operational requirements and provide operational input to the acquisition process.
Microprocessors capable of operating at extremely low power levels will soon fly in a variety of spacecraft. Radiation hardened in a novel process that allows them to be produced in existing facilities, the chips will play a role in future near-earth and deep-space missions. Moreover, the technology presents potential applications beyond aerospace circles, especially in battery-powered communications devices, sensors and portable electronics.
A multifaceted one-stop shop that matches technology requirements identified by top government and military officials with available and emerging industry solutions will enable TechNet International 2000 attendees to home in on answers to critical questions confronting governments throughout the world.
The information age that is defining our entry into a new millennium is being driven by the rapid development of technology, and that development in turn is being driven by research. Both government and industry are reaping the benefits of this windfall in electronics. However, both must not forget the importance of continuing to pursue scientific advances that will fuel and sustain this technology boom. And, both sectors must also coordinate their efforts to ensure that government needs are met through purposeful research.
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, are conducting ground-breaking research into super-small structures that has led to prototype devices such as ultraminiaturized chemical sensors and analyzers, tiny medical devices, super-strong alloys, and catalysts for destroying hazardous materials. Future applications could include filters that selectively admit or seal out substances through molecule-sized valves, medical devices that precisely monitor patient health and deliver exact doses of medication based on that data, and clothing that knows when the wearer is hot or cold and then admits air or becomes an insulator accordingly.
A new polymer-based electro-optic modulator may provide fiber optic networks with an order of magnitude increase in bandwidth that could clear the way for applications ranging from broadband Internet access to full-scale holographic projection currently found in science fiction television programs. Developed in a joint research effort by scientists at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, and the University of Washington, Seattle, the new technology also uses less power than present-generation modulators and features low noise disturbance.
Holodecks may only exist in the realm of science fiction, but work underway at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory will allow military personnel to not only view a deluge of data but also interact with it. Many of the technologies that are key to this effort are still in their infancy; however, researchers are examining some currently available commercial products that meet requirements identified by commanders. Today's data display systems allow military personnel to view substantial amounts of data on one interactive screen. Tomorrow's systems would invite commanders to step inside a scenario virtually and become immersed in situational awareness.
The U.S. Army's transformation to a rapid-response fighting force is compelling its information systems experts to shift their plans for digitization. Situational awareness is increasing in importance, sensors are becoming more sophisticated, and diverse elements and activities are being linked to make the individual soldier an information-enhanced warrior.
Military and civilian command and control experts are exploring new ways to exploit one of the most powerful weapons in the U.S. Air Force arsenal-information. Processes, procedures and technologies currently under development are scheduled to be put into place later this year and in early 2001.