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News Briefs

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.

France Improves Identification Crypto

April 3, 2009

The French navy and air force are adding new encryption technology to their identification friend-or-foe (IFF) systems to reduce the chance of enemy interception and analysis. The new encryption is being applied to more than 1,000 IFF systems equipping the two services. The equipment will help ensure that links between aircraft transponders and ground-based interrogators are not read or corrupted by new interception technologies now appearing in the battlespace. The existing IFF systems receiving the encryption upgrades will be able to respond quickly and reliably in an electronic warfighting environment, company officials say. The French government has awarded a 30 million contract to EADS Defense and Security for the new IFF encryption suite.

Refining the Beam on Lasers

December 4, 2008
By H. Mosher

Single-frequency amplifiers are being developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) new Revolution in Fiber Lasers program. The program is designing building blocks to combine laser beams that can be scaled to a weapons-class power level while maintaining good beam quality.

Raven Takes Digital Flight

November 21, 2008
By H. Mosher

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.

Coast Guard Simulates Command Center Tools

November 19, 2008
By H. Mosher

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.

Agreement Streamlines Joint Acquisition Processes

October 31, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force have signed a memorandum of agreement that will leverage development, production, sustainment and upgrade efforts for the RQ-4-based programs under each of the services. The agreement enables the services to continue to pursue common objectives across the RQ-4 enterprise while retaining each service's specific mission and operational requirements. Military officials believe the agreement will promote cost savings and eliminate redundancies. The new memorandum will allow the Navy and Air Force to share data that will help ensure program effectiveness and help contractors increase quality and improve on-time delivery, they say.

Codes Can't Hide

October 31, 2008
By H. Mosher

The Malicious Code Research Center, Finjan Incorporated, has discovered examples of obfuscated code embedded not only in hypertext markup language Web pages on legitimate Web sites but also in rich-content files. According to a recently released Finjan report, popularity is increasing for online advertisements as well as user-generated content on Web 2.0 Web sites in directing users to malware-infected content files. Code obfuscation remains the preferred cybercriminal technique for their attacks, the report states.

Vehicle Defense System Passes Test

October 31, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems' (FCS's) Active Protection System (APS) has successfully passed stationary and moving target tests. The APS is designed to protect the FCS family of future manned vehicles from a variety of anti-tank and artillery projectiles. The APS is a vehicle-mounted system that defeats incoming threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles by physically destroying or deflecting them in flight. The APS launches vertically and then maneuvers to defeat single or multiple projectiles coming in from any direction.

Soldiers Take Sonic Aim at Snipers

October 30, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Army has begun its first large-scale deployment of a warfighter-wearable gunshot and sniper detection solution. The Army's Rapid Equipping Force will begin distributingSoldier-Wearable Acoustic Targeting Systems (SWATS) to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq later this year; the distribution is expected to be complete by early next year. Part of the Ears Gunshot Localization System family of products, SWATS includes next-generation sensors and is ruggedized so that it can be used in current operations.

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