Diverse businesses from technology developers to hotels are capitalizing on the public's compulsion to stay in touch. Until recently, technology that allows laptop owners to access networks wirelessly was viewed as a nonessential add-on. But today, companies and consumers recognize the benefits of mobile computing, and technology providers are meeting the new demand with equipment that makes notebook computers ready for surfing right out of the box.
A new policy that directs government organizations to expand the use of U.S. commercial remote sensing technology is opening the eyes of government and industry to potential partnerships. Government entities that had not used remote sensing before are discovering applications that may become integral to their way of doing business in a few years. Concurrently, commercial satellite imagery providers are finding unexplored market possibilities. This growing synergy ultimately may lead to civil government input on the design and development of future remote sensing platforms.
The U.S. Navy has achieved milestone developments in free electron laser technology that may lead the way to shipboard lasers defending fleets from attacking aircraft and cruise missiles. Recent demonstrations have generated 1-kilowatt low-frequency beams, and scientists are on the brink of attaining 10-kilowatt laser beams.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is taking direct action in the commercial remote sensing marketplace with a five-year funding commitment to ensure the next generation of orbiting imagers. Acknowledging the vital role played by commercial remote sensing satellites, the government agency seeks both to guarantee that these next-generation orbiters will be built and to influence their design to suit agency customers.
Planners for the Israel Defense Forces have directed their infantry systems development program to focus on the growing challenges of urban warfare. The country's future combat soldier program is delivering both technological and conceptual solutions to provide advanced communications, navigation and lethality in an integrated package to the infantry.
It is preaching to the choir to tell SIGNAL readers how information technology has improved military capabilities. The network-centric environment that defines the 21st-century force may be the most important military technology development since gunpowder. And, as with all innovation-driven changes, this one is spawning a host of side effects-some of which actually challenge the tactical force effectiveness that these technologies aim to empower.
A number of advanced unmanned aircraft systems are poised to enter service with military forces across Europe. This is the result of a continentwide investment in robotic aerial vehicles representing advances in current vehicles and new platforms. The aircraft all share a modular design approach for rapid mission customization and versatility.
A major U.S. Defense Department research program is developing lightweight, miniaturized, low-power radios for dismounted infantry and support equipment. The program, which is part of an initiative to replace the current generation of military radios, has drawn competing design teams from across the defense industry.
Interoperability is a key issue in the move toward advanced software definable radio systems. Lessons learned from operation Desert Storm indicated a need for greater communications between the services during combat, necessitating the development of radios sharing common waveforms usable by all the services and that can be rapidly reprogrammed in the field.
In the near future, U.S. Army units will benefit from high-speed, high-capacity data networks that will connect every unit, from individual infantrymen to headquarters units. However, to realize this vision, hurdles such as managing mobile ad hoc networks and providing beyond-line-of-sight communications in a fluid combat environment must be addressed.
The changing composition of the semiconductor industry, combined with foreign government action that has leveraged market forces, has resulted in the shift of chip manufacturing from the United States to offshore locations, particularly China and East Asia. This migration has substantial national security ramifications, as the transformation of this nation's military into a network-centric force requires high-end semiconductor chips to provide the processing power for numerous defense applications.