Warfighters on the battlefield soon will enjoy the ease of use that touchscreen computer display technology affords. A U.S. firm and a Korean firm are joining forces to manufacture and supply the U.S. Defense Department with proprietary military-grade touchscreen systems that are designed and tailored for use in harsh environments, including extreme temperatures, barometric pressure and humidity.
A missile upgrade kit will allow U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft to attack mobile targets precisely while limiting collateral damage. Applied to a combat-proven high-speed missile, the modifications permit pilots to select specific areas to attack and to designate restricted zones within a target area. The enhancements allow the military to convert a relatively specialized radar-seeking missile into a multipurpose attack weapon.
Information overload can stop troops in their tracks. Ongoing investigations are examining how to determine when a soldier has received too much data as well as how technology can lessen the cognitive burden of service members so they can react properly in dangerous situations. Discoveries are yielding better practices for military decision makers and medical personnel, and they have applications in fields that are a far cry from researchers’ original ideas.
The mission objective for the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet was a simple, one-line item: Combine the thousands of systems, applications and control mechanisms in the entire U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps together into one uniform, well-managed network. Simple, but far from easy. The promised payback from this undertaking was also simple: enhanced security, increased efficiency and the capacity to move more military personnel from the computer management field onto the battlefield. Now, as the project approaches the end of its initial contract period—even taking user rumbling and grumbling into account—the world’s largest private network appears to be working as planned.
Tasked with a smorgasbord of new missions, the U.S. Navy is building a riverine force with operational capabilities ranging from brown water combat to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This group already has tasted combat in Iraq, and planners are developing equipment and adapting technologies for a long-term riverine force.
Instead of hosting the mother of all battles, the Iraq War has proved to be the mother of invention for U.S. Army electronic warfare. Faced with the necessity of countering improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, the Army has committed to developing a full-scale electronic warfare capability that will be distributed throughout the entire force. That capability already has achieved a measure of success in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Army now is tailoring it to interoperate effectively in joint operations.
Forward observers are trading in their pencils and voice communications systems for a more digitized approach to calling for fire. A handheld technology reduces the chance for human error, enhances accuracy and saves troops valuable time.
The U.S. Navy's Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System–Maritime is part of a multinational initiative supporting information exchange among coalition partners. Successful coalition communications systems must be built around capabilities that allow a responsive flow of information without violating the trust or compromising the security interests of participating nations.
The defense community is turning to new weapons to wage war
The U.S. Navy is on the verge of deploying the first parts of an intelligence collection and management network designed to share data between fleet task forces and command and analysis centers. The completed system will provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting support to government agencies, U.S. allies and all of the services.
Overall funding for programs in the U.S. military command, control, communications, computers and intelligence market is projected to remain relatively unchanged through fiscal year 2003, according to a new study. Spending is expected to only rise from $7.06 billion in fiscal year 1996 to $7.07 billion in fiscal year 2003. However, total funding for programs in the defensewide support systems market segment, comprising operational space systems and associated activities, is projected to rise strongly during this period.
The installation of a fiber optic network has vastly improved communications capabilities for troops fighting in Iraq. Military expertise, commercial technology, hard work and a bit of creativity have resulted in a reliable infrastructure that warfighters at all levels have come to depend on and expect. And, upgrades at command posts have freed up equipment that can be used at forward operating bases.
The Defense Department is striving to link its diverse battlefield communications through a single system based on an airborne platform. This system would be capable of providing connectivity among radio and cellular telephony users while loitering over a theater of operations, and its capabilities could also be applied to intelligence collection and dissemination.
New versions of handheld tactical radios offer secure links, improved portability and the ability to function after being submerged in up to 20 meters (66 feet) of fresh or salt water. Special operations forces equipped with these radios can travel lighter and be in touch as soon as they get out of the water, instead of having to stop, unpack and hook up their radios.
Urban warfare concepts are receiving increased scrutiny through a series of U.S. Marine Corps experiments aimed at preparing the Corps for likely future missions. Participants in these experiments are studying the problems of urban conflicts and are identifying and developing new tactics, techniques, procedures and technologies that could prove useful on an urban battlefield.
The Naval Research Laboratory, the U.S. Navy's primary in-house facility for basic and applied research, is taking a leading role in the development of advanced applications of both solid-state semiconductor devices and vacuum electronics-two technologies widely thought to be heading in opposite directions.
A new military radio incorporates the capabilities of several different units in a single package. Offering flexible and secure communications in a variety of bands, the lightweight, manportable unit also features an all-digital architecture, allowing for software upgrades and advanced power management.
Monitoring force status, planning campaigns and disseminating orders soon may take minutes instead of hours as the British Army implements a new command support system. Its two-dimensional map display and manipulation features graphic task organization, drag-and-drop document and message handling, operational log keeping, extensive database reference, and task planning and management. A mouse would be used as a primary interface to activate functions or show whatever is desired on top of displayed mapping.
A British firm is embracing the military's trend toward using commercial electronics by developing a growing range of ruggedized products and systems. The focus of this longtime battlefield platform equipment provider has shifted from ruggedizing specific commercial hardware to providing complete off-the-shelf technology systems that are suited for military environments.
Moving rapidly to gain information dominance on the battlefield, the U.S. Army will fully equip and deploy a digitized division by next year. This continuing quest for information dominance and situational awareness also calls for outfitting a fully digitized Army corps by 2004.