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News Briefs

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.

Vision System Adds Color to the Night

October 17, 2008
By H. Mosher

U.S. Army soldiers soon will be equipped with an enhanced night vision system that will increase their situational awareness in combat. Developed by BAE Systems through the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier Enhanced Night Vision Goggle advanced technology development program, the digitally fused enhanced night vision goggle, ENVG (D), allows soldiers to view imagery that exploits features from visible, low-light and infrared sensors. The prototype system features a monocular eyepiece that provides several modes of fusion for varied mission needs, such as visible-only imagery, infrared-only images, monochrome fusion or colorized fusion with a user-selectable color palette.

Compound Could Improve Weapon Detection and Sensors

October 17, 2008
By H. Mosher

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University have discovered a light-emitting compound that may assist optical communications as well as eventually help identify biological and chemical weapons at long distances. The compound structure almost went unnoticed because it grows lengthwise, creating long, thin crystals that are well suited for fiber optics but difficult for researchers to study. Scientists were able to determine the structure using the Chemistry and Materials beamline of the Center for Advanced Radiation Sources at the Advanced Photon Source.

Small Satellites Chosen for Big Mission

October 16, 2008
By H. Mosher

The National Science Foundation is funding SRI International and the University of Michigan to use CubeSats in a program called CubeSat-based Ground-to-Space Bistatic Radar Experiment-Radio Aurora Explorer. CubeSats are small satellites, typically a 10-centimeter cube weighing one kilogram, used for science missions that are dedicated to space weather and atmospheric research. The program's mission is to remotely explore small-scale ionization structures in the form of plasma turbulence that occurs in response to intense electrical currents in space. Those structures can have a negative impact on communications and navigation signals by perturbing the refractive index along signal propagation paths. The first launch is scheduled for December 2009.=

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