Critical actionable military data obscured by foreign languages and often masked in large volumes of different types of media are both highly important and perishable. The global deployment of a dozen monitoring systems is enabling software applications to transcribe and translate both text and speech and distill large volumes of information in multiple languages, including Arabic and Chinese.
Technologies developed for the new Network Centric Radio System will provide reliable, mobile and secure backbone battlefield communications. Designed for use with a maneuver force, the system's ad hoc capability dynamically reconfigures itself to maintain network connectivity automatically. Vehicles in the network can communicate routinely whenever within range of each other without manual configuration.
Built for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the new A160 Hummingbird unmanned helicopter is designed to fly autonomously with a high-altitude endurance of 20 hours. This aerodynamically clean platform rivals fixed-wing aircraft performance to employ a suite of sensors, including foliage penetration radar that unmasks hidden troops and vehicles.
An airborne sensor system that provides standoff and persistent wide-area surveillance of dismounted troops and vehicles moving through foliage holds the potential to change the scope of warfare. Mounting this sensor beneath an unmanned helicopter would enable identification of possible ambush sites. This small radar also denies concealment and sanctuary to enemy units hiding in wooded areas or moving in the open during darkness or adverse weather.
Promising advances in integrated circuit technologies such as nanowires, molecular electronics and fault tolerant architectures could help alleviate industry needs in designing and fabricating computer chips. New emerging technologies and approaches generally unknown to industry will be urgently required within six or seven years to help sustain continuing progress in dense integrated circuit production.
An engine of innovation, the Defense Research Projects Agency's Microsystems Technology Office relentlessly drives down the size, weight and power requirements of ever-higher-performance electronic components. Its development of semiconductor materials for innovative electronic devices places this organization on the cusp of major breakthroughs with next-generation communication, radar, electronic warfare, imaging and sensor systems.
An Orbital Express program demonstration underway almost 500 kilometers (300 miles) above the Earth is expected to have a profound effect on U.S. space operations and the design of military and commercial satellites. A series of successful maneuvers over the next several months is structured to demonstrate on-orbit satellite refueling and modular upgrades to avoid technical obsolescence.
The role of a relatively small defense agency operating from a high-rise office building not far from the Pentagon is to color outside the lines. This entrepreneurial organization has done that for 50 years and in the process has become a driving force in academia, industry and the military with one scientific breakthrough after another. The agency's technology advances continue to change the way the United States conducts warfare with startling battlefield triumphs.