The Raven unmanned aerial system (UAS) will be upgraded with a new digital datalink that will quadruple the number of available video channels and improve video quality, relay capability and encryption. The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center developed the datalink, which has been transitioned to the production line. Until this time, the Raven has used an analog downlink to share video and telemetry information. However, video data that cannot be compressed prior to transmission consumes large amounts of bandwidth, and when the signal weakens, the full-motion video feed degrades. Switching to digital addresses these issues.
The SIGNAL Blog
The U.S. Air Force has created a new Air Staff directorate-aligned as A10-to strengthen the focus on nuclear enterprise. The Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Office began operations on November 1. The directorate is the second organizational change officials have implemented to improve nuclear focus. The first involved consolidating nuclear sustainment responsibility in the Air Force Materiel Command at the Nuclear Weapons Center. The Air Force also announced plans for a nuclear-only major command called Air Force Global Strike Command as its future field-operating construct for the nuclear enterprise.
The U.S. Army has halted the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program because development costs have almost tripled to $942 million from $359 million. In addition, deliveries were scheduled to begin in 2009 but had been pushed back to 2013. Army officials say they need helicopters now and will re-evaluate the requirements for a reconnaissance helicopter. In the meantime, the service branch will put more effort into the existing Kiowa Warrior fleet. The Army will implement a safety enhancement program to standardize that fleet and improve its effectiveness in combat. The upgrades include improved sensors, weapons systems and survivability equipment.
In another example of how the military community can receive help through military organizations, the U.S. Defense Department has released comprehensive handbook outlining compensation and other benefits service members and their families are entitled to after separating or retiring from the military because of serious injury and illness
Alion Science and Technology Incorporated has received a $12 million contract to provide operational logistics analysis to the Naval Operational Logistics Support Center (NOLSC). Alion will support NOLSC in testing operational logistics concepts and providing system-centric training to deployable units in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. Alion will conduct analyses to help address capability, manning, training and budget issues.
Raytheon Company has been awarded a U.S. Department of Homeland Security contract to develop a Stand-Off Warning Against Radiological Materials technology. The contract has a potential value of $2.9 million if all options are exercised.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard First District command center participated in an experiment simulating a scenario that examined decisions and actions to locate a vessel of interest and prevent a potential terrorist incursion. The Coast Guard worked with Raytheon Company on the experiment and used the company's Mission Profiling process to study the potential for theoretical decision support tools and concepts of operations to improve a Coast Guard district command center's maritime security mission. Several tools and concepts demonstrated potential for further investigation. The exercise was the first joint experiment under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement signed by Raytheon and the Coast Guard Research and Development Center.
The U.S. Army has taken delivery of equipment of the first increment of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T). This phase of the program builds on the former Joint Network Node network and offers high-capacity secure communications when warfighters are not in transit. Devices include network hubs, management suites and nodes. The 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team is training with the equipment to prepare for operational tests and evaluations. The second increment of the program will include an initial on-the-move broadband networking capability using satellite and radio links. Fielding of phase-two equipment is scheduled to occur next year.
The U.S. Navy has commissioned the first littoral combat ship (LCS). The 378-foot USS Freedom features interchangeable mission packages so that it can be reconfigured for antisubmarine, mine and surface warfare on an as-needed basis. It is filled with advanced networking capabilities that enable it to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships and submarines as well as with joint units. USS Freedom can operate in water that is less than 20 feet deep and can travel at speeds exceeding 40 knots. In addition to tactical and communications tasks, the new LCS will serve as the platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) offers a wealth of resources-some of which have been featured in this column before-for the military community and offers many programs for the public to support its freedom fighters. One of the classic ways the organization enables citizens to reach out to warfighters is through its gift cards and exchange catalog gift certificates. Anyone can purchase these items and send them to a specific military member or designate them for any service member, including injured warriors, for distribution by a service organization. AAFES is offering free shipping on the cards as well to avoid extra costs.