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Air Force ISR Changes After Afghanistan

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland

The U.S. Air Force is emerging from almost 13 years of conflict in the Middle East with a different perspective on its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Lessons learned from those battlefields are leading to new directions that will entail abandoning traditional approaches and methods.

Recent operations have demonstrated the importance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to coalition partners. As the missions wind down, officials in charge of such activities are focusing on a reset, determining what adjustments to make to keep the capabilities relevant moving forward. The Air Force has no plans to stop providing services across the military, though what that means with a smaller force in different environments remains to be seen.

Throughout the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, capabilities from various sensors became available at continually lower echelons even as support remained intact to the highest levels within the United States. Officials in the ISR community have learned to better integrate platforms, sensors, the network and the enterprise. The advent of the Joint Information Environment encompasses part of that effort, as the military creates a single, secure information-sharing environment across its branches.

Maj. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, commander, Air Force ISR Agency, says the war in Afghanistan will be remembered as an ISR war as much as anything else. Incredible ISR capabilities were fielded to Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 12 to 13 years, but not all of them will transfer to the military of the future. Others will be revamped for a different fight. Some capabilities coming out of Afghanistan, for example, will be as important in new locations, but for different reasons, Gen. Shanahan states.

Helicopter Remote Piloting System Proves Successful

April 8, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has successfully demonstrated the Autonomous Aerial Cargo and Utility System (AACUS), which allows current, full-size helicopters to be remotely controlled by a tablet device. Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, USN, chief of naval research, recently revealed that two young Marines at Quantico, Virginia, were able to land a full-size helicopter autonomously on an unprepared landing site with just one touch on a mini-tablet.

Advanced Design to Support Helmet Sensor Data Gathering in Afghanistan

March 20, 2014

Advanced Design Corp., Lorton, Va., was awarded an $8,420,987 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for field service technician support to gather data from helmet sensors used to examine mild-traumatic brain injury (concussion). Work will be performed in Afghanistan. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen, Md., is the contracting activity (W91CRB-14-C-0011).

Coast Guard Develops Indigenous Technologies for Cutters

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

By the end of this fiscal year, the next-generation command and control system for much of the cutter fleet should be installed on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 270-foot cutter class, and the system is now being considered for inclusion on 225-foot and 110-foot vessels. The system, called SeaWatch, combines navigational and tactical, optical surveillance and communications into one situational awareness picture; provides commonality across the fleet; and replaces an aging system that has outlived its usefulness.

Researchers Develop One-of-a-Kind Nanocomputer

January 31, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Scientists and engineers from MITRE Corporation and Harvard University published a paper this week revealing the development of what they call the most dense nanoelectronic system ever built. The ultra-small, ultra-low-power processor could be used for tiny robotics, unmanned vehicles and a broad range of commercial applications, including medical sensors.

Trillions of Sensors Feed Big Data

February 1, 2014
By Michael A. Robinson

The emergence of big data combined with the revolution in sensor technology is having a synergistic effect that promises a boom in both realms. The ability to fuse sensor data is spurring the growth of large databases that amass more information than previously envisioned. Similarly, the growth of big data capabilities is spawning new sensor technologies and applications that will feed databases’ ever-increasing and diverse types of information.

System Fuses Many Sensors' Data Into a Single Image

February 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

An upgrade featuring a lightweight sensor and software system added to smaller unmanned vehicles can provide capabilities similar to those available on larger vehicles. As the Defense Department realigns its operational focus to the Pacific, deployable forces, such as special operations teams and Marine Corps expeditionary forces, need high-quality airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. While such capabilities are normally provided by unmanned aircraft such as the MQ-1 Predator, smaller platforms have to meet this need for troops operating in remote areas. These smaller vehicles require fewer personnel and are easier to maintain, but they are also less capable.

Navy Artificial Intelligence Aids Actionable Intelligence

December 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

To ease the load on weary warfighters inundated with too much information, U.S. Navy scientists are turning to artificial intelligence and cognitive reasoning technologies. Solutions that incorporate these capabilities could fill a broad array of roles, such as sounding the alarm when warfighters are about to make mistakes.

Littoral 
Combat Ship 
Loaded With 
Unmanned
 Systems

December 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy intends to deploy an arsenal of airborne, surface and underwater unmanned systems for its new shallow-water combat ship. The array of unmanned systems will extend the ship’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, enhancing awareness of enemy activities, and will reduce the number of sailors deployed to minefields, saving lives.

Developmental UUVs Offer Offense, Defense From Anywhere

November 25, 2013
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Navy is expanding its autonomous subsurface fleet with the introduction of a platform designed for persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as offensive capabilities.

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