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December 2013

The Unique Character of Naval ISR

December 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Naval forces represent the ultimate projection capability for the United States. This important capability creates some unique requirements and constraints in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Navy and Marine Corps. The expeditionary nature of these forces drives two distinctive aspects of naval ISR.

Embrace Uncertainty, Win the Future

December 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

Two pictures have taken up residence in my mind over the past few weeks. They highlight the growing disconnect between the U.S. Defense Department and the broader strategic environment—not just in terms of geopolitics but also in the way the rest of the world lives, works and interacts.

The first image captures how the Defense Department views the world. It is a simple map with neat lines delineating the different joint combatant commands. While the boundaries make sense in a conventional way, they are drawn merely for geographic convenience. Implicitly, those lines preclude interaction between constituent elements.

The second image is elegant, beautiful and haunting in its complexity. It is an image of the world as it actually is—interconnected, unbounded by geography, spanning the globe with dynamic diversity. This image was the project of Paul Butler, a Facebook intern whose curiosity led him to an interesting project: visualize the relationships for 10 million of the 250 million users on Facebook in 2009. He plotted not only the location of the Facebook user but also more critically the location of each of their friends. This second image is the result.

Each “line” represents the flow of goods, information, ideas and relationships, unbounded by traditional geography. Consider too, the many geopolitical implications inset in the image. For instance, China lacks much “light.” As China is the most populated country in the world, one would expect a beautiful montage of light and lines. Instead, China’s strict Internet controls leave it relatively dark and disconnected.

How can government and industry best work together to achieve more affordable national security products?

December 1, 2013
By Rear Adm. James Greene, USN (Ret.)

When stripped to the bare essentials, the process followed in most defense acquisitions is quite simple. A requirement is generated, an acquisition strategy developed and a contract let, before the item is produced, deployed, sustained and, eventually, disposed of. Typically, efforts at acquisition reform have dealt with the predeployment phases and consist mostly of renaming the phases by changing milestones from ABC to 123 and back to ABC, by sliding milestone events left or right and by adding oversight reviews. With the current and expected future emphasis on affordability and cost control of major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs), a shift in focus from a process-centric to a product-centric approach deserves serious consideration. Indeed, it is a national security imperative that we procure more affordable weapons systems that can create win-win opportunitiesfor both government and industry. Government will be able to afford more national security assets and industry will be engaged to sell more of those assets.

So what is needed to create a more product-centric environment? On a macro scale, injecting stability, accountability and trust into MDAPs is an essential first step. Let’s examine each factor.

China Destroyer Consolidates Innovations, Other Ship Advances

December 1, 2013
By James C. Bussert

A new destroyer being deployed by China offers improvements in technology that rival those of the newest destroyers being built for the U.S. Navy. Its advances include phased array radars and improved missiles and launch systems. With room to grow, this ship seems destined to play a significant role in naval operations.

Nanowire Sensor Detects Minute Amounts of Explosives, Chemicals

December 1, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

A prototype nanotechnology-based sensor offers the possibility for ubiquitous, networked, real-time chemical agent detection and tracking. By using easily produced super-small components, the devices potentially can be installed in a variety of devices, such as smartphones, robots or commercial appliances.

Nanowire-Based Memory Technology Records Movement, Pressure

December 1, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

Physical movement stored as memory in a microchip could lead to advances in touch screens, robot control devices and medical implants. Researchers are arraying nanowires on a microchip to form a write-read memory cell as part of ongoing work that could convert motions, such as a hand in a glove or pressing a display, into memory. Moving or putting pressure on the nanowires creates an electrical current that can be read and recorded as memory. Arrays of such cells offer the potential for a variety of user interface applications and for new ways to convert mechanical or biological actions into electronic data.

Developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), the piezoelectrically modulated resistive memory (PRM) system relies on the piezoelectric effect, where some materials, in this case zinc oxide nanowires, will generate electrical current when they are put under pressure or moved, which causes them to temporarily bend or deform. Piezoelectric materials also create mechanical strain (movement) when they are exposed to an electric current. PRM technology allows the creation of a new type of transistor that is switched on or off through movement or mechanical activity, explains Zhong Lin Wang, regents professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Material Science and Engineering in Atlanta.

Current memory systems, such as flash memory, are mainly if not entirely electronic, Wang says. But PRM technology allows the direct writing of electrical or optical memory through physical means. “Once you introduce the piezoelectric effect into the memory, you talk about the memory of strain and stress,” Wang notes.

Nano Looms as the Next Pervasive Technology

December 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Nanotechnology is the new cyber, according to several major leaders in the field. Just as cyber is entrenched across global society now, nano is poised to be the major capabilities enabler of the next decades. Expert members from the National Nanotechnology Initiative representing government and science disciplines say nano has great significance for the military and the general public.

According to the initiative, its aim is to move discoveries from the laboratory into products for commercial and public benefit; encourage students and teachers to become involved in nanotechnology education; create a skilled work force and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology; and support responsible development. The initiative involves more than two dozen government agencies, industry, academic partners and international participants.

Dr. Mihail Roco is the main architect and founding chair of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). In addition to that work, he sits on various committees and serves as the senior adviser for nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Having helped advance the field to its current point, he predicts that in the next five to 10 years the focus will shift to application. Because of improved tools for more accurate measurement and control at the nanoscale level, he foresees more economical development of nanotechnology. “We’ll be able to understand and build robust solutions,” he states. Most solutions now are based on assumptions and trial and error. For these reasons, they are still expensive, he adds.

Radioisotope Research 
May Revolutionize 
Battlefield Batteries

December 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Army researchers are developing batteries powered by radioisotopes that could last for decades, or longer. The long-lived power sources could lighten the logistics load on the battlefield and energize sensors and communications nodes for extended periods, offering enhanced situational awareness and opening up operational options for warfighters that do not exist today.

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.

Nanomaterial Fabrication Moving to Desktop

December 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

A new printing technology could move the production of nano-sized electronic components from multibillion-dollar facilities into the hands of users, including military users in the field. The device, which is about the size of a desktop printer, will allow rapid prototyping of nanomaterials, contribute to stem cell and other medical research, offer a range of commercial uses and save potentially billions of dollars. Furthermore, because the product builds upon already widely available technology, it could be fielded within two years, researchers say.

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