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DoD Wrestles With Social Media Identity

September 10, 2009
By H. Mosher

When Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, came on board at the Defense Department a couple of months ago, he got the directive from Sec. Gates to use social media to engage-not just push out messages. But within days of starting, Floyd found that most of those social media channels had been shut down.

Multipurpose Missile Program Accelerates

June 2009
By Henry S. Kenyon

A new missile soon will allow different U.S. aircraft to attack a wider range of targets while providing improved targeting and range performance over current air-to-ground missiles. The missile can operate on a variety of aircraft with little or no modification because its software automatically interfaces with the platform’s targeting system. By moving to one standardized missile, the U.S. military also aims to reduce its maintenance and supply costs while enhancing operational flexibility.

Data Fusion for Attack Helicopters

April 6, 2009

U.S. Army attack helicopters operating in Southwest Asia now can receive video and data from unmanned aerial platforms, enhancing situational awareness and reducing sensor-to-shooter times. The Video from Unmanned Aerial Systems for Interoperability Teaming-Level 2 (VUITTM-2) capability provides the crews of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters with real-time streaming video and metadata shown on multipurpose displays. The VUITTM-2 can transmit both Apache and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) video via a mini-tactical common datalink to troops equipped with One System Remote Video Terminals. Army officials explain that the capability enables Apache aircrews to stream imagery to ground units such as Stryker vehicles on combat patrols. The real-time video provides immediate intelligence so that commanders can plan safer alternate routes. The live UAS data also allows Apache crews to locate and engage time-critical targets quickly. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corporation, the VUITTM-2 was designed and fielded in less than seven months as part of a rapid fielding request from the U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff.

Army Modifies Radar Systems

April 5, 2009

The U.S. Army is enhancing its mobile ground-based radars designed to detect incoming enemy artillery rounds. The AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder weapon-locating radar is a long-range system that is being deployed across the service to locate the sources of enemy mortar, artillery and rocket fire, and to relay that data for counterfire by friendly units. As part of the Army's Reliability Maintainability Improvement (RMI) program, the entire inventory of AN/TPQ-37 and AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder systems will be modified with a modular, air-cooled transmitter and new common radar processors. ThalesRaytheonSystems officials, the company that is contracted for the modifications, note that the upgrades will significantly reduce life-cycle costs, provide higher operational availability and extend the radar's expected operational life to the year 2030. The modifications are part of a $285 million production contract.

Navy Sends BAMS to Air Force

April 4, 2009

A U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is part of the joint mission of the U.S. Air Force 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. The new role marks the first operational mission for the BAMS UAS-a maritime derivative of the RQ-4 Global Hawk-although the aircraft has been used in noncombat roles. BAMS' arrival in Southwest Asia is the culmination of more than five months of a joint effort to stand up a maritime surveillance presence in the region. The move came when Navy officials responded to a Defense Department request for more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the area. Air Force personnel will control the system at the forward operating location, and Air Force instructors will train naval aviators. Experts from both military services have come together to create a process to ensure that differences in operational and maintenance rules and standards are identified and resolved quickly.

Video Streams to The Tip of The Spear

April 2009
By Henry S. Kenyon

Dismounted warfighters soon will have access to live imagery transmitted from aerial sensor platforms. This mobile video capability allows infantry and special operations units to capture and share video streams across tactical communications and data networks. The equipment consists of two new lightweight systems that move what had originally been a command post and vehicle-based system to the company and squad level.

Sky Eyes for Submarines

December 4, 2008
By H. Mosher

Future U.S. Navy submarines will be able to obtain a better operational picture by launching their own unmanned aerial systems (UASs). A recent test by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, Rhode Island, demonstrated that a submerged vessel can deploy a UAS at sea.

The demonstration simulated the submarine launch of a specialized UAS to collect intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in a littoral environment. During the demonstration, two launch vehicles were deployed over the side of a surface ship. The vehicles descended to 80 feet and then surfaced. Once on the surface, the craft stabilized themselves in variable sea states, aligned into the wind and then launched a dummy UAS.

The test, which took place at the Narragansett Bay Shallow Water Test Facility Range, Rhode Island, is part of the Navy's Submarine Over the Horizon Organic Capabilities (SOTHOC) program. Future SOTHOC tests will deploy a UAS from a submerged submarine to evaluate its performance in a maritime interdiction mission. The UAS and its deployable launch vehicle are designed and manufactured by the Raytheon Company.

Joint Task Forces Receive Dynamic Support

December 2008
By Robert K. Ackerman and Maryann Lawlor

Rapidly deploying U.S. forces now can tap expertise directly related to their hastily assigned missions from a new organization formed to address the deployment needs of joint task forces. The group can bring in experts ranging from public affairs specialists to intelligence officers.

Lasers Target Covert Communications

November 2008
By Maryann Lawlor

Conversion of four of the U.S. Navy’s Trident missile submarines into covert transportation for U.S. special operations forces could lead to investigations that perfect laser communications. A proposed experiment to evaluate the effect of real-world weather conditions on free space optics systems aims at honing the ability to communicate tactical information in clandestine operations in real time and at high fidelity.

Programmable System Guides Jet to New Heights

June 2008
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. military’s newest combat aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, is designed as a multirole platform capable of carrying out a range of missions for different services and foreign allies. Its brains are an advanced software programmable avionics package that can be rapidly reconfigured for new operations. The package manages the aircraft’s navigations, communications, electronic warfare, and identification friend or foe functions. Although it was developed for use in fighter aircraft, the electronics package can potentially be installed in a range of airborne and ground-based vehicles.

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